Proposition 8 opponents file legal challenges

The city attorneys in L.A. and San Francisco are challenging the validity of Proposition 8. Californians this week narrowly approved amending the state constitution to eliminate marriage rights for same-sex couples. City attorneys Rocky Delgadillo of L.A. and Dennis Herrera of San Francisco filed a request for the state Supreme Court to overturn the ban. KPCC's Brian Watt reports the legal challenges to Proposition 8 began even before all the votes were counted.

Brian Watt
November 06, 2008
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The city attorneys in L.A. and San Francisco are challenging the validity of Proposition 8. Californians this week narrowly approved amending the state constitution to eliminate marriage rights for same-sex couples. City attorneys Rocky Delgadillo of L.A. and Dennis Herrera of San Francisco filed a request for the state Supreme Court to overturn the ban. KPCC's Brian Watt reports the legal challenges to Proposition 8 began even before all the votes were counted.

Brian Watt: The Los Angeles couple who started the legal fight for same-sex marriage is Robin Tyler and Diane Olson. Their lawsuit led to the California Supreme Court's ruling granting gay couples the right to marry.

Last June, they were first lesbian couple in the Southland to tie the knot. After Tuesday's vote, Diane Olson said the Prop 8 result made them sad – and sent them back to court.

Diane Olson: We're not gonna stop. I love Robin. We just want our equal rights.

Watt: Gloria Allred is their attorney.

Gloria Allred: We will argue to the court that Prop 8 is a disguised revision to the constitution which cannot be imposed by the ordinary amendment process which only requires a simple majority.

Watt: Allred believes the court must determine that California can't issue marriage licenses to straight couples without violating the constitution's equal protection clause.

The gay rights law firm Lambda Legal has also filed a lawsuit. It also argues that banning same-sex marriage is more than an amendment to the constitution – it's a fundamental revision that requires legislative approval before it goes to the voters.

John Eastman: I think it's pretty clear that the amendment process is sufficient and that when California adopted their constitution they deliberated, wanted an easy amendment process rather than a difficult one.

Watt: That's John Eastman, dean of Chapman University's law school.

Eastman: There are good things and bad things that come from that, and that's just a process we have in California.

Watt: Eastman was matching wits on KPCC's "Patt Morrison" with UC Irvine's law dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Erwin Chemerinsky: What's a revision opposed to an amendment is very much an open question, and that's the issue that's gonna be litigated here. And there's not clear guidance.

Watt: About 18,000 same-sex couples who got married before the election will also need legal guidance. Their advocates – like Lambda Legal and Gloria Allred – maintain that those marriages will remain valid.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has vowed to back them up. But California's constitution says an amendment takes effect the day after the election.

Clerks in California counties including Los Angeles have already stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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