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LGBT groups denied federal Prop 8 case
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LGBT groups denied federal Prop 8 case

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On August 19, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker set January 11, 2010 as the trial date for the legal challenge to Proposition 8. Vaughn also ordered lawyers on both sides of Perry v Schwarzenegger to get ready quickly for the trial, which foes of California's same-sex marriage ban hope will be the first step in getting the legal fight over Gay marriage into the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the August 19 hearing, Walker refused to allow a coalition of Gay rights groups to directly join the lawsuit. The judge said the current plaintiffs, Theodore Olson and David Boies, could challenge Proposition 8 on their own.

"On behalf of our clients, we are disappointed that the court did not permit organizations that represent California's diverse LGBT community to participate in the case as the Court weighs the harms inflicted by Proposition 8," Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a statement following Walker's ruling. "The significance of this case for our entire community is enormous. To exclude the people whose very freedom is at stake is troubling."

The organizations went on to say, "Our commitment to restoring marriage for all Californians is unwavering, and we will continue to do everything within our power to secure full equality and justice for LGBT people."

The plaintiffs urged Walker to deny the groups' request because the organizations had originally opposed taking the legal fight over Gay marriage into the federal courts.

The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 in May with a 52-48 vote, which amended the California Constitution to outlaw Gay marriage. Immediately following the ruling, two same-sex couples sued in federal court to overturn Prop 8. The lawsuit maintains Prop 8 violates the federal constitutional rights of Gay and Lesbian couples by denying them the equal right to marry. The case will be the first legal test in the federal courts over the issue.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has argued the law is unconstitutional, is not defending the law. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no public position on the case.

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