Kamala Harris Victory in Attorney General Race Thrills California Gay Rights Groups

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Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 4:18 PM

click to enlarge California Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris
  • California Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris
Two prominent gay rights groups in California didn't waste any time celebrating Kamala Harris's victory over Steve Cooley in the state attorney general race, which L.A. Weekly called yesterday.

"Today's decision in the attorney general race means that equality triumphed in every California statewide race," a press release from the American Foundation for Equal Rights stated today.

"We're thrilled that our state has elected a governor and an attorney general who will refuse to defend Proposition 8 in court," said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors in his own statement.

During the campaign, Harris said that if given the opportunity, she would not defend Proposition 8 in federal court as the California Attorney General. Cooley, on the other hand, said he would, citing that he must defend the "will of the people."

Proposition 8, the ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage in California, was found unconstitutional in August by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker. That lawsuit, which was organized and largely funded by the Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Equal Rights, is now going through the appeals process.

Current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who will soon become governor, have refused to defend Proposition 8 at any stage of the federal lawsuit.

This has become a problem for anti-gay marriage forces, who may not have legal standing during the appeals process. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will take up the issue of standing and the merits of Vaughn's decision on December 6.

If the appeals court finds that only the California governor and attorney general have standing, but refuse to defend the case in court, Vaughn's decision on Proposition 8 could be upheld on that technicality.

There are still many other legal scenarios that could play out, say court observers.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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