‘Same arguments used to perpetuate bans on interracial marriage nearly 50 years ago’ are defending Prop 8 today, City Attorney says
SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 22, 2013) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued the following statement in response to the opening brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court earlier today by proponents of Proposition 8, the controversial ballot measure that eliminated marriage rights for same-sex partners in California. The constitutionality of Prop 8 is being challenged in one of the two potentially landmark cases currently before the nation’s highest court that address same-sex marriage rights.
“The proponents of Prop 8 are defending discrimination against same-sex couples with the same arguments used to perpetuate bans on interracial marriage nearly 50 years ago,” said Herrera. “The U.S. Supreme Court has strongly affirmed the principle of equal protection over states’ rights and quaint traditionalism before, and it should do so again here. Twenty-one states had laws against interracial marriage when Barack Obama was born to an interracial couple in 1961. It would take another six years for the high court to strike those laws down once and for all in Loving v. Virginia. Judge Vaughn Walker was absolutely right in his original holding in our case that, ‘Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage.’ The facts and law make clear that Prop 8 is peculiarly irrational and inexplicable by anything other than prejudice. It violates the Equal Protection Clause, and should be struck down.”
The legal issues at stake in the challenge to Prop 8, the controversial 2008 ballot measure that eliminated marriage rights for same-sex partners in California, are two-fold: first, whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and second, whether the proponents of Prop 8 have legal standing to litigate the case. Rulings are expected by the end of June. The timeline of San Francisco’s legal battle for marriage equality since February 2004 is available here.
The Prop 8 case is: Hollingsworth v. Perry, U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 12-144. The DOMA case is: United States v. Windsor, U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 12-307.
PDF of the Herrera Statement on Petitioners’ Brief in Prop 8 case (Jan. 22, 2013)