(San Francisco, CA, May 26, 2009)—Today, in a 6 to 1 decision, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, the ballot measure that eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry. At the same time, the court unanimously ruled that the more than 18,000 marriages that took place between June 16 and November 4, 2008 continue to be fully valid and recognized by the state of California. The decision reaffirmed the Court’s prior holding that sexual orientation is subject to the highest level of protection under the California Constitution.
A statement from Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:
The decision is a terrible blow to the thousands of Californians who woke up this morning hoping and praying their status as equal citizens of this state would be restored. The court’s decision has crushed those hopes and made it painfully clear that we must go back to the voters to restore equality. The majority opinion upheld prop 8 only through tortured logic that ignored its prior recognition that same sex couples and their children are entitled to full equality under the law. No group should have its right to equality put up for a majority vote. And yet that is what the Court permitted in its decision today. That holding has set a dangerous precedent that endangers the most basic principle of our democracy the right to equal protection of the laws. As Justice Moreno wrote in his dissent, “denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, by wrenching minority rights away from judicial protection and subjecting them instead to a majority vote, attacks the very core of the equal protection principle.”
This is a sad day for California and especially for all the parents who must now explain to their children why their family is not considered equal. But the path before us is now clear. In the days ahead, all those who care about fairness — and especially same-sex couples and their friends and family members — must give voters in California a chance get beyond their fears and help them know and understand our families. Today’s decision was a painful setback, but if we stay united and reach out with love and respect, we will prevail.
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.