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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
National News
Section One
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National News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Prop 8 is back in court
Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment that re-banned same-sex marriage in 2008, returns to the federal courtroom December 6 - this time at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Prop 8 was struck down as unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco on August 4. Twelve days later, however, the 9th Circuit blocked any same-sex marriages from taking place in California while proponents of the ban attempt to appeal Walker's ruling.

Oral arguments in the appeal will take place for two hours starting at 10 a.m. December 6. It will be the only courtroom action at the appeals-court level.

In the first hour, the parties will address the question of whether any entity has legal standing to appeal Walker's ruling. The state of California and the county clerks who were sued in the case have refused to defend Prop 8 in federal court.

The people who put Prop 8 on the ballot are hoping to be granted standing to proceed with their appeal. In addition, the Southern California desert county of Imperial is seeking to intervene in the case as a defendant.

It is unclear if either of these parties will achieve standing. If they do not, the case is over and Walker's ruling will take effect. Or the parties could appeal the standing issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the second hour of the hearing, lawyers will seek to defend or destroy Walker's determination that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law. Those arguments will become irrelevant if no Prop 8 opponent achieves standing in the case.

Walker found that there is no 'rational basis' for Prop 8's existence and that voters inserted it into the state's constitution solely to express 'moral disapproval' of gay people.

He blamed pro-Prop 8 campaigners for fueling such disapproval by airing misleading TV ads and distributing material that 'relied heavily on negative stereotypes about Gays and Lesbians and focused on protecting children from inchoate threats vaguely associated with Gays and Lesbians.'

The 9th Circuit hearing will be aired live by C-SPAN and several California television outlets.

N.H. same-sex marriage law could be repealed
New Hampshire's law that legalized same-sex marriage could be repealed if some Republican legislators get their way.

In the November elections, Republicans took control of both houses of the Legislature and have enough seats to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

Bills already have been filed to repeal the marriage-equality law and to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.

'Republicans now have a veto-proof majority in the Legislature, and the newly elected House speaker, state Rep. Bill O'Brien, is a staunch opponent of marriage equality,' said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. 'But we know there are many New Hampshire Republicans who support marriage equality and we're looking forward to working with them.'

The Legislature legalized same-sex marriage in June 2009 and the law took effect Jan. 1 of this year.

Same-sex marriage also is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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