Monday, June 22, 2009

San Francisco Voices Support for Federal Case Against Prop 8

The city of San Francisco has joined the chorus of voices supporting the overturn of Proposition 8 in the courts by backing the federal case against the initiative being argued by Ted Olson and David Boies. Attorney General Jerry Brown and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already stated support for the case.

Thursday night, City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in U.S. District Court arguing that Proposition 8 was motivated by hatred of gays and lesbians and violates their constitutional right to be free of discrimination.

Despite the fact that the Yes on 8 campaign claimed Prop 8 was to protect traditional marriage and children, the city attorney said, "excluding same-sex couples from marriage does nothing to advance those goals . . . (it's) real aim (was) harming gays and lesbians and expressing moral disapproval of them."

“San Francisco is presently compelled by Proposition 8 to violate the federal constitutional rights of gay and lesbian citizens,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Chief Deputy Therese Stewart state in their 49-page amicus brief. “[Proposition 8] offends the federal Equal Protection Clause even applying the most deferential test.”

Herrera and Stewart spearheaded the successful litigation that led to the California Supreme Court recognizing marriage as a fundamental right guaranteed to all Californians under the state constitution. Those rights were later stripped by Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution.

“City Attorney Herrera and Chief Deputy Stewart have not only been inspiring leaders of this fight, they are also two of the foremost legal authorities in this arena,” American Foundation for Equal Rights Board President Chad Griffin said, the organization responsible for the federal case against Prop 8. “Their support bolsters our work to overturn Proposition 8 and guarantee that every American is treated equally under the law.”

The city supported its argument by citing the Supreme Court's 1996 ruling that struck down Colorado's ban on state and local gay-rights measures and said a law motivated by hostility toward gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the San Francisco gate that his organization may be making an official statement of support soon, too.

The federal suit is "going forward, and we certainly want it to succeed," Minter said.

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