NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The outcome of the gubernatorial and attorney general races in California could affect the future of Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that banned “gay marriage.”
If a Republican wins either race, he or she could change the course of the case, which could then have implications nationwide. A federal judge ruled in August that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals now is reviewing written arguments and will hold a hearing in December.
Neither Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nor attorney general Jerry Brown has been willing to defend Proposition 8 in an appeal, and though the measure’s official proponents, ProtectMarriage.com, have appealed the judge’s decision, they lack the legal authority of the governor or attorney general.
In the governor’s race, Republican Meg Whitman has said the state should defend Prop 8, while Brown, the Democrat candidate for governor, has chosen not to defend the measure. In the attorney general race, Republican Steve Cooley has promised to defend Prop 8, while his opponent, Democrat Kamala Harris, has said she would not challenge the federal ruling.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California’s Irvine School of Law, said a decision by the next attorney general to defend Prop 8 would “significantly” delay a federal appeals court’s decision on the measure’s legality and probably influence the ultimate ruling, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Chemerinsky, who strongly supports “gay marriage,” was speaking at a news conference sponsored by Equality California, a homosexual advocacy group. If the state continues to refuse to defend Prop 8, even after the election, Chemerinsky said it’s possible the Ninth Circuit would dismiss the appeal for lack of legal standing.
The law professor added that although a legal deadline for appealing has passed, the court “might be willing” to permit a new attorney general’s intervention. At least the attorney general could file a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of Prop 8, the Times reported.
Harris, San Francisco’s district attorney, “has been an early and ardent supporter of marriage equality,” according to her campaign website. “Despite recent legal setbacks, Kamala continues to publicly support marriage equality and firmly believes this civil right will become the law of the land,” the site says. Also, she is “committed to doing everything within the power of the Attorney General’s office and the law to join in the effort to repeal Prop 8.”
In a Field Poll released Sept. 25, Cooley led Harris by 4 points, but his lead was within the margin of error.
LAWYERS DEBATE PROP. 8 APPEAL — On Oct. 19, “gay marriage” advocates told the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that private sponsors of California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex “marriage” have no legal standing to appeal a court ruling overturning the measure.
Lawyers for two homosexual couples, a homosexual rights group and the city of San Francisco filed their briefs against Prop. 8 with the San Francisco-based federal court, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The November 2008 ballot initiative overrode an earlier state Supreme Court ruling that allowed “gay marriage.” A federal judge ruled Aug. 4 that Prop. 8 was discriminatory and violated an individual’s right to choose a spouse.
The appeals court will hear arguments about the Aug. 4 decision in December, after it decides whether private sponsors of a ballot initiative have the legal standing to appeal a court ruling overturning a state law, the Chronicle reported.
Protect Marriage, the campaign committee for Prop. 8, contends it has the right to defend the measure “on behalf of the people of California” and denying them standing to appeal “would fail to respect the California people’s initiative right,” the Chronicle reported. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown are not challenging the ruling.
Protect Marriage argued in last month’s filing that Walker had “blinded himself” to the true purpose of marriage, “responsible procreation and child-rearing,” the Chronicle added.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach and assistant editor Mark Kelly.