SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The federal trial over the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 will begin Monday, January 11 with an opening statement by attorney Theodore Olson, who with David Boies is leading the legal team assembled by the American Foundation for Equal Rights to litigate the case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Opening statements will be followed by testimony from Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who comprise two couples who wish to be married but who were denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.
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- For courthouse access information, visit: https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/
- For information about remote viewing locations, visit: http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/news/watch-prop-8-trial-live/
- Visit http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org for updates regarding potential broadcast of trial, photos, any available footage, court filings, live tweets from the courthouse and more.
- Plaintiff's case is outlined at http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/legal-filings/plaintiffs-trial-brief/
Olson and Boies notably represented George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore respectively in the 2000 Supreme Court case that decided the presidency.
At trial, Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, will weigh witness testimony, a multitude of documents and other evidence, and arguments presented by some of the nation's most distinguished attorneys.
"This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution," the plaintiffs' suit states.
According to the suit, Prop. 8:
- Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties.
- Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of "second-class citizens."
- Discriminates on the basis of gender.
- Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
Olson and Boies will also point out the "crazy quilt" of separate, unequal and unconstitutional classifications of people that Prop. 8 has compelled the California government to create:
- Opposite-sex couples who have full marriage rights
- Same-sex couples who have no marriage rights
- Same-sex couples married between May and Nov. 2008 whose current marriages are recognized, but who will be unable to remarry if widowed or divorced
- Same-sex couples married in other states who may petition California for recognition.
The defendants have the burden of demonstrating that Prop. 8 is narrowly drawn to serve a compelling government interest. Olson and Boies will demonstrate at trial, however, that the initiative fails to advance even a single legitimate interest. Tellingly, when asked by Chief Judge Walker at an Oct. 14 hearing to identify any harm to opposite-sex marriage that would result from marriage equality, the defendants' attorney answered "I don't know."
The case against Prop. 8 has proceeded with uncommon speed toward trial. In an order issued after the first hearing in the case, Chief Judge Walker stated: "Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings ... the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. ... The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial."
"More than 30 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that marriage is one of the basic rights of man," the suit states, referring to the Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia.
Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, noted that near the time when the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans with its 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, a Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans did not approve of interracial marriage.
While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown were named defendants in their official capacities, along with other state and county officials, Prop. 8 is being defended in court by a prominent conservative organization, the Alliance Defense Fund. Gov. Schwarzenegger earlier filed a brief that did not dispute the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8, and called for swift action by the courts. Attorney General Brown, the state's chief law enforcement officer, filed a brief agreeing with the plaintiffs' position that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.
The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) are participating in the case as amici (friends of the court) in support of the plaintiffs. The City and County of San Francisco, led by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, are supporting the plaintiffs' team as co-counsel, with a specific focus on the negative impact Prop. 8 has on government services and budgets. Herrera and Stewart led the legal battle toward the California Supreme Court decision that struck down California's previous same-sex marriage ban.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights Advisory Board, which was announced January 9th, includes Julian Bond, Lt. Dan Choi, Margaret Hoover, Dolores Huerta, Cleve Jones, Stuart Milk, David Mixner, Hillary Rosen and Judy Shepard. For more information, see http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/press-releases/american-foundation-for-equal-rights-names-advisory-board/.
Olson is a former U.S. Solicitor General and is widely regarded as one of the nation's preeminent constitutional lawyers, and has argued 55 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies ranks as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation, having secured landmark victories for clients in numerous areas of the law. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.
Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for nine years and are the parents of four boys. Perry is Executive Director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under five. She holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MSW from San Francisco State University. Stier is Information Technology Director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. She is originally from Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Perry and Stier first tried to marry in 2004, after the City of San Francisco began issuing licenses. They live in Berkeley, CA.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo have been together for eight years. Katami is a fitness expert and business owner who graduated from Santa Clara University before receiving his graduate degree from UCLA. Zarrillo is the General Manager of a theater exhibition company. A native of New Jersey, Zarrillo graduated from Montclair State University. Having wanted to marry each other for more than two years, they considered options including traveling to other states for a "civil union," but felt any alternative fell short of marriage. They live in Burbank, CA.
They have issued the following joint statement: "We and our relationships should be treated equally under the law. Our goal is to advance the cause of equality for all Americans, which is the promise that makes this nation so great."
SOURCE American Foundation for Equal Rights