Contact: Gloria Allred
Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a special day for all couples who wish to express their love and commitment to each other, but it is particularly important to same gender couples who are currently seeking the right to marry the person of their choice. Those couples, some of whom are here today, have been denied that fundamental right to marry in California.
On Valentine’s week in 2004, I announced that if my clients Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, a same gender couple who were in a loving committed long term relationship, were denied a marriage license in Beverly Hills that we would file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of that ban. They were denied and we filed that lawsuit and litigated the issue of the marriage ban through the California courts for six years, twice before the California Supreme Court.
We won the right to marry for Robin & Diane and other couples who wished to marry before Proposition 8. After Proposition 8, however, no other couples were permitted to marry.
A federal lawsuit is now pending seeking the right to marry for same gender couples who wish to do so and challenging the constitutionality of Prop 8 under the U.S. Constitution as a denial of equal protection. This issue of marriage equality is extremely important and the case is now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the California Supreme Court to answer the question of whether the opponents of Prop 8 have “standing” to defend it. Both the California Attorney General and the California Governor have refused to defend Prop 8 because they argue that it is unconstitutional.
The California Supreme Court is expected to respond to the U.S. Court of Appeals very soon (possibly this week).
We hope that the California Supreme Court will decide not to answer the certified question posed to it (which they have every right to do) or if they decide to answer it that they will decide that Prop 8 proponents have no “standing” to defend that initiative, because the issue of standing is a federal, not a state question.
Also, if the California Supreme Court decides that it will answer the “standing” question it would unreasonably delay the legal process and that delay will cause irreparable harm to couples, such as those who are here today, who wish to marry. Every day that they are excluded from the enjoyment of their constitutional rights they are being denied the respect and human dignity which they should be entitled to enjoy. This is an argument which I also made to the California trial court in our original case.
If ultimately the 9th Circuit decides that Prop 8 proponents have no standing to defend the initiative, the court could still decide the case on its merits or decide to dismiss the case. Either way, it is likely that a Writ of Certiorari will be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, and that is where the ultimate decision on standing and possibly on the merits of the case will be made.
We look forward to the day when all loving adult couples will enjoy the right to marry in California and we will continue the battle for marriage equality until that day arrives.
On Valentine’s Day we all love flowers and chocolates, but the enjoyment of equal protection under the law is the gift that keeps on giving after the chocolate is consumed and the flowers have faded.
On this Valentine Day we pledge that we will never stop until we have won equal rights for all.
We shall overcome!
Attorney at Law
February 14, 2011