SAN FRANCISCO - Attorneys representing same-sex couples, Equality California and Our Family Coalition filed a legal brief today opposing a request to stay the court's ruling and prevent couples from marrying for several months. The request to stay the California Supreme Court's ruling was filed shortly before the Memorial Day weekend by an Arizona-based, right-wing legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, on behalf of the Proposition 22 Legal Defense & Education Fund.
'Two weeks ago, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of fairness in marriage for all Californians,' said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. 'A stay of that historic decision would return us to the idea that some Californians are more equal than others.'
On May 15, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state may no longer exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage.
'Couples like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have waited more than 50 years for the chance to marry,' said Shannon Price Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, referring to one of the couples involved in the landmark marriage case. 'The highest court in our state has spoken, and now it is time to let those couples fulfill the dream so many people share - the dream of marrying the person they love.'
According to a letter sent to County Clerks' offices today by the California Office of Vital Records, the state will begin granting marriage licenses to lesbian and gay couples on Tuesday, June 17.
As right-wing groups attempt to block the state Supreme Court's decision, a new Field Poll released today indicates that public opinion in California has moved a long way toward support of marriage for lesbian and gay couples. According to the poll, 51 percent of Californians agree that lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry, while the percentage opposing marriage for same-sex couples has shrunk to 42 percent. Fifty-four percent oppose changing the state constitution to exclude lesbian and gay couples from marriage, while only 40 percent would favor such a change. Ballot measures that start off with a majority in opposition historically go down in defeat.
'Over time, public opinion in California actually has swung in favor of fairness and against intolerance,' said Clare Pastore, of counsel to the ACLU/SC and one of the attorneys in the case. 'More and more people are accepting the idea that this struggle is not about agendas but about everyone having the same rights.'
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy and public education. NCLR is lead counsel in In re Marriage Cases.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
The American Civil Liberties Union is America's foremost advocate of individual rights. It fights discrimination and moves public opinion on LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education.
Founded in 1998,Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.
Our Family Coalition promotes the rights and well-being of Bay Area lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families with children and prospective parents through education, advocacy, social networking and grassroots community organizing.