California Attorney General Kamala Harris Joins Obama as Friend of the Gays, Asks Court to Lift Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Updated after the jump with high fives from across the gay-rights community.
After disappointing news came two weeks ago that the fight against Prop. 8 is being delayed until at least September, brand-new California Attorney General Kamala Harris took matters into her own hands today, airing her impatience to the court:
The Sacramento bombshell has filed a petition in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals demanding gay marriage be legalized during the time it takes to get the whole Prop. 8 appeal sorted out in court [NBC Los Angeles].
President Barack Obama made a similar move last Wednesday...
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... when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal administration would no longer defend gay marriage's biggest adversary: the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996. (You know, because his own sexless marriage was obviously so superior to that of any same-sex couple. Psh. Some Democrat.)
The POTUS' flip to the right side of justice made huge waves in the gay community -- after all, if the head of the country has your back, it's a lot more likely the rest will follow. On February 16, Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, wrote in an e-mail to his members:
"It is hard to overstate the significance of today's announcement. The president and the attorney general recognized today what we have been saying in court since the day we opened our doors: Discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation is presumed to be unconstitutional and unconstitutional laws should not be defended."
Obama's decision was also seen as a huge step toward repealing California's own Proposition 8; now, combined with Harris' push, a conservative definition of marriage in the Golden State becomes even less status quo.
From the petition:
The President and the United States Attorney General have determined that they will not continue to defend the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") because it enforces a classification that fails to meet the heightened standard of scrutiny that should apply for equal protection analysis under the Fifth Amendment. While it lacks the force of law, Attorney General Holder's reasoned analysis is entitled to consideration. See Schick v. Reed, 419 U.S. 256, 275 n.12 (1974). It is also consistent with the California Attorney General's long-standing position, convincingly validated after a full trial on the merits, that Proposition 8 violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
For 846 days Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples. Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, moments have been missed, and justice has been denied. The preconditions for a stay are lacking on this record. The stay should be vacated.
Hell yeah, girl! Now we just have to get these stuffy old judges to see the light.
Update: Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, whose org documents the stories of "LGBT families who face irreparable harm as a result of continuing [Prop. 8] legal wrangling" on its website, released the following statement in response to Harris:
"Every minute of state sanctioned discrimination is a minute too long. The California Supreme Court's decision to put its own summer vacation plans before the lives of thousands of California families is an outrage, and it must not be allowed to stand. ...
With Proposition 8 already ruled unconstitutional in federal court, it is imperative that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals immediately lift the stay on enforcement of this decision so that families like Riverside's Derence Kernek and Ed Phillips---together for 40 years but now waging a battle against Alzheimer's Disease--are able to marry before it's too late. I challenge the California Supreme Court--or any court for that matter--to tell Derence or Ed that they have not yet earned that right."
And the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group challenging Prop. 8 in court, had the following to say, via co-lead counsel Theodore Olson:
"We are respectfully asking the Court to lift its stay on marriage for gay and lesbian couples because it has become apparent that the legal process is taking considerably longer than could reasonably have been anticipated. ...
It's unreasonable and decidedly unjust to expect California's gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second class citizens while their U.S. District Court victory is debated further."
Originally posted at 2:15 p.m.
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