FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 9, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, December 9, 2004) — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), lead counsel in California's marriage equality case, Woo v. Lockyer, issued the following statement in support of today's decision by the Canadian Supreme Court, holding that the Canadian government may amend its marriage laws to permit same-sex couples to marry.
"Today's decision by the Canadian Supreme Court is a ringing affirmation, by our closest international neighbor, of the full humanity and dignity of lesbian and gay people," said Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "The Canadian Constitution is based on the same principles of fairness and equality that animate our own constitution. I am confident that California and many other states will soon follow Canada in striking down discriminatory marriage laws that serve only to harm same-sex couples and their families."
As lead counsel in Woo v. Lockyer, NCLR represents Equality California, Our Family Coalition, and 12 same-sex couples who are seeking equal access to marriage. The lawsuit argues that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of their state constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of expression and equal protection based on sex and sexual orientation. Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer will hear oral arguments in the case on December 22, 2004.
NCLR's co-counsel in Woo v. Lockyer include Lambda Legal, the ACLU, Stephen V. Bomse, Richard DeNatale, and Christopher Stoll of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP, David C. Codell of the Law Office of David C. Codell, and Clyde J. Wadsworth and Dena L. Narbaitz of Steefel, Levitt & Weiss. The Canadian decision also affirmed that religious officials will continue to be free to refuse to solemnize any marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. This principle is also codified in Assemblyman Leno's California Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which is sponsored by Equality California, and which was reintroduced in the California Legislature earlier this week.
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.