Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Evan Wolfson Weighs in On the CA Supreme Court and Proposition 8

Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, and author of Why Marriage Matters; America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry, knows what he's talking about when it comes to same-sex marriage. Or marriage in general. He also knows judges, having argued before the US Supreme Court and filing amicus briefs that helped win cases.

In his role at Freedom to Marry, he uses his keen knowledge of the law to advance marriage equality through the courts. And today on the Huffington Post he weighed in on the responsibility of the CA Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. Some highlights:

"The Court has the duty to strike down Prop 8, a measure that, while it received a narrow majority, should not have been on the ballot in the first place. The Court should explain that the interests of all of us, even a temporarily disgruntled majority, are better served when the rules are upheld. The Court should remind the public that, as the U.S. Supreme Court has said, "There is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally." That restraining principle is an essential pillar of equal protection. The very idea that the Court would permit a simple majority to even inadvertently discard such a defining element of the Constitution is distressing.

"But, shockingly, the Chief Justice spoke as if his hands were tied by the mere fact of the November vote, the legitimacy of which is the very issue before the Court. He did not explain that equal protection at a minimum obliges the majority to itself abide by whatever treatment it imposes on a minority — a core structural principle eviscerated by Prop 8, which removed the fundamental right to marry for the gay minority alone while retaining that precious right for the majority. . .

"Never before has the Court allowed a fundamental right to be voted away from a targeted minority. Never before has the Court taken the invitation of a lawyer, such as Prop 8's Ken Starr, to set a precedent that, as Starr repeatedly conceded, would put no state constitutional limitation on a future majority's ability to vote away protections. . .

"Unlike right-wing opponents of equality, who denounce and seek to punish courts for doing their job, I criticize only when they flinch or fail to do it. If the Court, and if this Chief Justice, vote to uphold Prop 8's damaging blow to American constitutional principles, it will be a terrible mistake, failing their obligation under and to the California Constitution . . . "
Read the rest of Evan Wolf's amazing piece at the Huffington Post, Will the California Supreme Court Strike Down Prop 8, or "Willy-Nilly Disregard" Its Duty?

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