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05 November 2008

Three lawsuits were filed directly with the state Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking orders immediately blocking enforcement of Prop. 8 and ultimately striking it down as a violation of fundamental rights in the California Constitution.The plaintiffs are six unmarried same-sex couples and the advocacy group Equality California; another couple who married shortly after the May 15 ruling took effect; and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, joined by Santa Clara County.

Although their lawyers would not discuss their strategy publicly, each suit seeks to overturn Prop. 8 on the basis of state law and avoids federal constitutional claims that could send the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gay-rights advocates have tried to keep such disputes away from the nation's high court, out of fear that the justices would issue a nationwide ruling rejecting any right of same-sex marriage under the U.S. Constitution.

That leaves the plaintiffs with the difficult task of showing that Prop. 8, a state constitutional amendment, violates other, more basic provisions of California's charter. The court has almost always rejected such challenges to other constitutional amendments.
posted by mudpuppie 05 November | 23:41
Oops. My pasting was poor.

The couples' lawsuits contend Prop. 8 is so far-reaching that it is not merely a constitutional amendment but a revision, which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to reach the ballot. Such a vote would be unlikely in an Assembly and state Senate overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.

The plaintiffs argued that the measure offends constitutional principles by taking important rights away from a historically persecuted minority - gays and lesbians - while stripping judges of their power to protect that group.

"A major purpose of the Constitution is to protect minorities from majorities," said Elizabeth Gill, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups suing on behalf of the six unmarried couples. "Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the Constitution itself, only the Legislature can initiate such revisions."
posted by mudpuppie 05 November | 23:42
Good. Let's hope it's struck down quicklike.
posted by Miko 05 November | 23:48
If Prop 8 survives, how would existing same-sex marriages be invalidated? I assume someone would need to challenge those marriages in court, but who has standing to sue?

My best guess would be an insurance company, hospital or next of kin that wanted to keep a same-sex spouse from exercising their rights. But would a successful challenge against one same-sex marriage then invalidate all of them, or would it have to be on a case-by-case basis?
posted by mullacc 05 November | 23:49
This will not be over any time soon. . I am glad that Obama is (almost) safety ensconced in office and that he may have things to say but it will not effect his election.

It's going to expand, and get more intense (if possible) before it's over.

(hugs to the pup and her gf and my daughter and all the queer little bunnies here.)
posted by danf 05 November | 23:51
mullacc, the linked article indicates that supporters and opponents of the measure have a difference of opinion as to whether the existing marriages are invalid.
posted by stilicho 06 November | 00:14
Yeah, that's why I ask my questions, stilicho. If the AG isn't going to take action to invalidate existing marriages...well, doesn't someone have to sue the state in order to settle the difference of opinion? Which leads me to the other questions. I'm just curious what the process could look like.
posted by mullacc 06 November | 00:43
I think it would be deliciously, exquisitely wonderful if the Prop 8 thing blows up in such a way that it ends up going further to promote the right to same-sex marriage nationally than any other effort so far. All that money, all the lies, all the hate from those who put this on the ballot ultimately resulting in a significant net gain for constitutionally protected equal rights for gays that wouldn't have happened as soon otherwise would be a beautiful, beautiful thing.

It seems like there are a lot of people out there right now still in full-on activist, campaigning, organizing, fund raising mode... it would be great if a pile of them turned their attention to this issue.
posted by taz 06 November | 00:54
hehehe, "queer little bunnies." Now you've got me picturing actual bunnies in drag, lip syncing to Gloria Gaynor and hopping around in sparkley platform shoes.
posted by MonkeyButter 06 November | 00:55
MB: like this? ≡ Click to see image ≡(found here)
posted by heeeraldo 06 November | 01:46
That's a definite LOL!
posted by MonkeyButter 06 November | 02:38
So, where does one send money to support the effort to strike down prop8? Which group is funding the lawsuit - the same one?
posted by mightshould 06 November | 07:44
Ooo good question, mightshould. I'd be interested in sending some funds to help as well.
posted by chewatadistance 06 November | 08:08
Ditto. Also, I saw this in a AskMetafilter thread.
posted by muddgirl 06 November | 08:23
Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition is already looking ahead to the 20 states without anti-gay marriage amendments. They appear to enjoy the taste of blood.
posted by BoringPostcards 06 November | 10:00
Ah, the refreshing stench of hypocrisy. I'm not a Christian, but I think Christ was a pretty ok dude. I wish he could see what was happening in his name.

(hugs to the pup and her gf and my daughter and all the queer little bunnies here.)

Yup. Let's of course not forget that this affects all bunnies, not just the queer ones. While laws like these are on the books, it diminishes all of us—as Americans, as citizens of the world, and as human beings. I'm glad that there are checks and balances in place to (hopefully) protect folks from having their rights legislated away.

Remember how much it diminished the rights of everyone else when they made slaves, and then women, full-fledged citizens? It destroyed the institution of citizenship, it did!
posted by Eideteker 06 November | 14:51
Here's a dissection of the legal situation. 1,2
posted by Eideteker 06 November | 14:59
YAY! || While preparing dinner tonight