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Plaintiffs’ Brief: “To deny gay and lesbian Americans the fundamental freedom to marry would … deny them their dignity as free persons.

Washington, DC – Today, Plaintiffs challenging California’s Proposition 8 filed their brief with the United States Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, urging the Justices to recognize the fundamental right of all Americans to marry by affirming the landmark federal court of appeals ruling that upheld the historic decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.  On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted review in Perry to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The Court will hear oral argument in Perry on March 26, 2013.

“Because of their sexual orientation—a characteristic with which they were born and which they cannot change—Plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of gay men and lesbians in California and across the country are being excluded from one of life’s most precious relationships.  They may not marry the person they love, the person with whom they wish to partner in building a family and with whom they wish to share their future and their most intimate and private dreams,” Plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by distinguished co-counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, said in the brief.  “Although opening to them participation in the unique and immensely valuable institution of marriage will not diminish the value or status of marriage for heterosexuals, withholding it causes infinite and permanent stigma, pain, and isolation.  It denies gay men and lesbians their identity and their dignity; it labels their families as second-rate.  That outcome cannot be squared with the principle of equality and the unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that is the bedrock promise of America from the Declaration of Independence to the Fourteenth Amendment, and the dream of all Americans.  This badge of inferiority, separateness, and inequality must be extinguished. When it is, America will be closer to fulfilling the aspirations of all its citizens.”

“This case is about marriage and equality.  The Plaintiffs we represent are two loving couples who, like millions of other gay and lesbian Americans, are being denied the right to marry and the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law, principles that are deeply rooted in our constitutional tradition,” said Plaintiffs’ counsel Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.  “The brief that we have filed today demonstrates that Proposition 8 and laws like it are irrational and discriminatory.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8.

“This case is about the fundamental constitutional right of every American to marry the person they love,” said AFER executive director Adam Umhoefer.  “A growing majority of people across the nation see that Proposition 8 and laws like it are unfair, unlawful, and contrary to basic American values.  It is time for the Supreme Court to recognize our Constitution’s promise of marriage equality for all.  And when that day comes, we will be more American.”

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.  On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

In addition to the Perry case, the Supreme Court has also granted review in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.  The Court will hear oral argument in Windsor on March 27, 2013.

READ THE PLAINTIFFS’ BRIEF HERE: www.afer.org/blog/read-afers-powerful-supreme-court-brief/

READ THE PROPONENTS’ BRIEF HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2013-01-22-Proponents-Brief.pdf 

READ THE SUPREME COURT’S ORDER GRANTING CERTIORARI HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-12-07-Certiorari-Granted.pdf 

READ THE NINTH CIRCUIT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2012-02-07-Decision-on-Merits.pdf

READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf 

 

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  After bringing together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case is currently before the United States Supreme Court.  The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.www.afer.org 

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