Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hearing on Federal Prop 8 Challenge - Defendants Attempting to Avoid Trial

Prop 8 proponents are challenging Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling to take the case against the initiative to trial. A press advisory from the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

A hearing on the federal challenge to Proposition 8 led by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies will be held at 10 am TODAY, Wednesday, October 14 in San Francisco. A press availability will follow the hearing.

At the hearing, Olson – on behalf of plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo -- will argue that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional and will urge the court to continue moving the case toward the January trial that was previously ordered by Judge Vaughn Walker. Olson will argue against claims by the defenders of Prop. 8 that the initiative is constitutional and that the court should accept that opinion without a trial.

“Prop. 8 creates two separate and unequal classes of people within our state. That's discriminatory and that's unconstitutional," said Chad Griffin, Board President, American Foundation for Equal Rights. "While we expect them to continue following standard practice and file motions to delay this case, nothing the other side argues can avoid the fact that Prop. 8 violates the rights guaranteed to all of us by the U.S. Constitution. We look forward to proceeding toward the trial Judge Walker has ordered for January."

This is the fourth hearing in the case since it was filed in late May. In an order issued just prior to the July 2 hearing, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, said: "Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings ... the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. ... The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial.”

Perry, Stier, Katami and Zarrillo comprise two same-sex couples who wish to be married but, because of Proposition 8, have been denied marriage licenses.

“This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” their suit states.

According to the suit, Proposition 8:
**Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties
**Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
**Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
**Discriminates on the basis of gender.
**Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

Olson is a former U.S. Solicitor General who represented George W. Bush in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, which decided the presidential election. Boies represented Al Gore in that case. Olson, widely regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional lawyers, has argued 55 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies ranks as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation, having secured landmark victories for clients in numerous areas of the law. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.

“More than 30 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that marriage is one of the basic rights of man,” the suit states, referring to the Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down bans on interracial marriage.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for 9 years and are the parents of four boys. Perry is Executive Director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under five. She holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MSW from San Francisco State University. Stier is Information Technology Director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. She is originally from Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Perry and Stier first tried to marry in 2004, after the City of San Francisco began issuing licenses. They live in Berkeley, CA.

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo have been together for 8 years. Katami is a fitness expert and business owner who graduated from Santa Clara University before receiving his graduate degree from UCLA. Zarrillo is the General Manager of a theater exhibition company. A native of New Jersey, Zarrillo graduated from Montclair State University. Having wanted to marry each other for more than two years, they considered options including traveling to other states for a “civil union,” but felt any alternative fell short of marriage. They live in Burbank, CA.

They have issued the following joint statement: “We and our relationships should be treated equally under the law. Our goal is to advance the cause of equality for all Americans, which is the promise that makes this nation so great.”


Thanks to Prop 8 and the Right to Marry blog, I have the motion to oppose Prop 8 proponents to avoid disclosing internal campaign documents. Prop 8 supporters are appealing Judge Walker's ruling that they hand over internal communications.

Opposition to Motion to Stay Discovery in Perry v. Schwarzenneger, filed 10/13/09

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