FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 20, 2006
Court to Decide Whether Same-Sex Couples Can Legally Wed
(San Francisco, CA, December 20, 2006) — Today the California Supreme Court unanimously decided to grant review in the California marriage cases seeking to remove the current ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Opening briefs are due January 19, 2007.
"We are delighted that the Court ruled so quickly and unanimously to grant review," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and lead counsel on behalf of same-sex couples in Woo v. Lockyer. "This is yet another indication that the California Supreme Court appreciates the importance of this issue not only for same-sex couples and their children, but for the entire state. We are grateful to the Court for moving so quickly and hopeful the Court will stand up for basic fairness and bring an end to the current ban on marriage for an entire group of Californians."
The couples and organizations are represented by lead counsel from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Heller Ehrman LLP, and the Law Office of David C. Codell.
In April 2005, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of sex and violates the fundamental right to marry. The California Court of Appeal overturned Judge Kramer's ruling in a 2-1 decision last month, saying that California may continue to bar same-sex couples from marriage. The Court today agreed to review the Court of Appeal decision.
More than 250 religious and civil rights organizations, including the California NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, California Council of Churches, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and National Black Justice Coalition, filed amicus briefs supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.
In 2005, the California Legislature passed AB 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act sponsored by Equality California, which would have ensured equal treatment under the law by allowing same-sex couples to marry in California. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.