…In response to the question submitted by the Ninth Circuit, we conclude, for the reasons discussed above, that when the public officials who ordinarily defend a challenged state law or appeal a judgment invalidating the law decline to do so, under article II, section 8 of the California Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Elections Code, the official proponents of a voter-approved initiative measure are authorized to assert the state’s interest in the initiative’s validity, enabling the proponents to defend the constitutionality of the initiative and to appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative.
Also just in, from The American Foundation for Equal Rights press release:
Today, the Supreme Court of California issued an advisory opinion in Perry v. Brown that will move the state – and the nation – one step closer to marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. The opinion, stating that the proponents of Proposition 8 have “standing” to defend Proposition 8, paves the way for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to issue a ruling on the merits of the case, whether gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to the freedom to marry.
The U.S. District Court found Proposition 8 unconstitutional on August 4, 2010. The anti-marriage proponents immediately appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. The Governor and Attorney General of California both declined to appeal the District Court’s decision.
“We are pleased that the California Supreme Court has now responded to the Ninth Circuit’s request for advice regarding a question of California procedural law,” said Theodore B. Olson, lead co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “Important questions of federal law remain pending before the Ninth Circuit, including, most significantly, the constitutionality of Proposition 8. We now anticipate a prompt and thorough resolution of those questions by the federal appeals court, which, we expect, will affirm the trial court’s comprehensive and compelling decision that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. We hope that the long wait for justice by gay and lesbian Californians will soon be over.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of the Perry lawsuit.
“Our plaintiffs’ historic lawsuit is now back on the fast track,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “We are back in federal court and on the cusp of victory for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples whose constitutional rights are being violated every minute of every day. The anti-marriage Proponents have no case. We are confident that the higher courts will uphold the District Court’s opinion that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
Plaintiffs will be back before the Ninth Circuit on December 8, 2011, for a hearing regarding proponents’ appeal of the district court’s decision granting plaintiffs’ motion to unseal the digital recording of the trial.
Of course the legalese can be hard to parse for the lay person, but fear not — here are some video primers on what the ruling means.
The Prop 8 case is back on the fast track with a ruling from the California Supreme Court that sets the stage for a huge victory that could come very soon. The American Foundation for Equal Rights explains.
AFER plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo respond to the November 17, 2011 ruling by the California Supreme Court on standing in the Proposition 8 case. Paul and Jeff comment on the decision and the next steps in the Prop. 8 lawsuit, as well as talk candidly about their hopes and plans to marry. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of the Perry lawsuit.
Reactions to the ruling by LGBT and ally orgs are below the fold.
The Courage Campaign:
“While we respect the recommendations that the California Supreme Court made to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals– that they grant standing to the proponents of the so-called ProtectMarriage.com — it is only a recommendation,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 750,000 member Courage Campaign. “Allowing the Prop 8 proponents to have special rights in Court may open the floodgates to wealthy special interests to do the same. The judges of the 9th Circuit must determine if people who had enough money to buy a ballot measure that calls for people to vote on each other’s rights should have special rights in federal court. Regardless, we are confident that justice and love will prevail.“
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.: “We disagree profoundly with the California Supreme Court’s holding that a handful of unelected initiative sponsors have the power to represent the interests of the entire public and to override the decisions of the state’s elected executive officers. Nonetheless, we are relieved that the case is once again moving forward and the Ninth Circuit will now address whether the initiative proponents can continue this appeal and, if so, whether Prop 8 is constitutional. We hope the Ninth Circuit will issue its decision soon and hasten the day when this damaging law is off the books. Every day that goes by, same-sex couples in California are being denied not only the basic right to marry, but the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect. Same-sex couples in California have lived under the shadow of this unfair law for far too long.”
Human Rights Campaign:
HRC President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement: “With today’s decision, the case challenging Prop 8 returns to federal court and we are one step closer to ending discrimination against loving California couples. Thousands of California families remain in legal limbo and we urge the Ninth Circuit to quickly issue its decision. We thank the courageous plaintiffs, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the Olson-Boies legal team for their continued fight for the equality of all Californians.”
Legal Director Jon Davidson: “While a disappointing ruling, this case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory. The ruling addresses only a procedural legal question. The key question underlying this case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits a state electorate to treat one group of people unequally to everyone else by depriving them of what the state’s high court has held to be a fundamental right. A federal court has already ruled that it may not. We look forward to seeing that decision upheld so that same-sex couples in California may once again enjoy the freedom to marry.
“Today’s ruling also does not settle the question as to whether Prop 8 proponents have standing in federal court. It remains up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to decide whether or not the U.S. Constitution allows initiative proponents to defend a challenge to the measure the proponents supported when elected state officials don’t. We think the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that they don’t.”
“In the end, the proponents of Prop 8 are just people with an opinion. That does not make them entitled to stand in for the government when they don’t agree with its decisions. We believe the U.S. Court of Appeals should rule that they lack standing under federal law and, if they don’t, that the full Ninth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court should rule that initiative proponents are not entitled to take over the government’s role.”
And, from the side of bigotry, reaction from the National Organization for Marriage:
“It has been nothing short of shameful to see Governor Jerry Brown, his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Kamala Harris abdicate their constitutional responsibility to defend Proposition 8 in Court,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “Although today’s ruling from the California Supreme Court confirms that the proponents of Prop 8 have the right to defend their initiative when the state officials refuse to fulfill their sworn duty, it is gratifying to know that the over 7 million Californians who supported the initiative will have a vigorous defense of their decision in our federal courts.”
“With this victory in hand, it is time for the Ninth Circuit to move the Prop 8 litigation forward to its eventual decision by the US Supreme Court,” Brown said. “We fully expect the Ninth Circuit, the most overturned court in America, to invalidate Prop 8, finding some phony right to same-sex marriage in the US constitution. However, once this case gets out of San Francisco and reaches the US Supreme Court, we fully expect to be victorious.”