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Proposition 8 plaintiffs call on Supreme Court to recognize marriage equality for all

WASHINGTON – Plaintiffs challenging California’s Proposition 8 today filed their brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, urging the justices to recognize the fundamental right of all Americans to marry by affirming the landmark federal court of appeals ruling that upheld the historic decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. On Dec. 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted review in Perry to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court will hear oral argument in Perry on March 26.

“Because of their sexual orientation — a characteristic with which they were born and which they cannot change — plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of gay men and lesbians in California and across the country are being excluded from one of life’s most precious relationships. They may not marry the person they love, the person with whom they wish to partner in building a family and with whom they wish to share their future and their most intimate and private dreams,” plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by distinguished co-counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, said in the brief.

“Although opening to them participation in the unique and immensely valuable institution of marriage will not diminish the value or status of marriage for heterosexuals, withholding it causes infinite and permanent stigma, pain, and isolation. It denies gay men and lesbians their identity and their dignity; it labels their families as second-rate. That outcome cannot be squared with the principle of equality and the unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that is the bedrock promise of America from the Declaration of Independence to the Fourteenth Amendment, and the dream of all Americans. This badge of inferiority, separateness, and inequality must be extinguished. When it is, America will be closer to fulfilling the aspirations of all its citizens.”

“This case is about marriage and equality. The plaintiffs we represent are two loving couples who, like millions of other gay and lesbian Americans, are being denied the right to marry and the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law, principles that are deeply rooted in our constitutional tradition,” plaintiffs’ counsel Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. said.

“The brief that we have filed today demonstrates that Proposition 8 and laws like it are irrational and discriminatory.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8.

“This case is about the fundamental constitutional right of every American to marry the person they love,” AFER executive director Adam Umhoefer said. “A growing majority of people across the nation see that Proposition 8 and laws like it are unfair, unlawful, and contrary to basic American values. It is time for the Supreme Court to recognize our Constitution’s promise of marriage equality for all. And when that day comes, we will be more American.”

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in federal district court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On Feb. 7, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

In addition to the Perry case, the Supreme Court has also granted review in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law. The high sourt will hear oral argument in Windsor on March 27.

Additional reading on Proposition 8

SCOTUS blog has posted the Prop 8 case as a "petition of the day," complete with documents relating to the Supreme Court appeal. Click HERE to review the documents.

Read plaintiffs' brief in opposition HERE.

Read proponents' petition for certiorari HERE.

Read the Ninth Circuit's order denying rehearing en banc HERE.

Read the Ninth Circuit's decision HERE.

Read the federal District Court's decision HERE.

Additional reading on DOMA

Lambda Legal has a "one stop DOMA shop" HERE.