‘A Public Sector Consensus for Marriage Equality’

Senate, Assembly Resolutions Conclude Historic Shift, as Legislature Joins Governor, A.G., Cities and Counties Against Proposition 8

SAN FRANCISCO (March 2, 2009) — The California State Senate and State Assembly today adopted legislative resolutions opposing Proposition 8 “because it is an improper revision, not an amendment, of the California Constitution.” The dual resolutions sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), as S.R. 7, and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), as H.R. 5, place the state’s legislative branch on record alongside its executive branch in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.; and local governments representing 17.2 million Californians in agreeing that the state Supreme Court should invalidate the narrowly approved measure that sought to strip fundamental marriage rights from gay and lesbian citizens.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Santa Clara County Counsel Ann M. Ravel, who are co-counsel in the public sector lawsuit currently challenging Prop 8’s validity in the California Supreme Court, issued the following statements:

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera:

“In 2004, my office filed the first government lawsuit in American history challenging marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples,” said San Francisco City Attorney Herrera. “Today’s legislative resolutions opposing Proposition 8 signal a remarkable shift that few would have predicted just five years ago — a public sector consensus for marriage equality. On the eve of oral arguments before the state Supreme Court, not a single government entity in California is today advocating that Proposition 8 be upheld. I think this consensus reflects a deeply American principle: discrimination isn’t just detrimental to the minority it targets, but to the majority that would abide it. I am thankful to Senator Leno and Assemblyman Ammiano for their legislative leadership; to Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown for their principled stands on the issue; and to my public sector legal colleagues who joined with us in our legal effort, especially Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo who stood with us from the start of this case.”

Santa Clara County Counsel Ann M. Ravel

“We are pleased that the State Senate and the State Assembly have joined the many public entities that have recognized that our constitution does not allow use of the initiative process to take away a basic right from minority groups. The people of California have adopted basic constitutional rules that balance majority rule and protection of minorities. Those rules set up two different ways of changing our constitution — revision and initiative amendment. Changes that are completely inconsistent with our basic principles of equality must be done with the involvement of the legislature or at a constitutional convention,” said Santa Clara County Counsel Ann M. Ravel. “If the constitution can be amended to take away even one fundamental right from one minority group that has a long history of government discrimination, there is nothing left to stop a series of amendments from being used to chip away piecemeal at every minority group’s basic rights.”

The public sector case is City and County of San Francisco et al. v. Mark B. Horton, et al. (S168078).
Other cases by private parties currently before the court are: Strauss v. Horton (S168047) and Tyler v.
State of California (S168066).