In San Francisco today, the California Supreme Court will consider arguments for overturning Proposition 8, the ballot initiative passed last year redefining marriage as between one man and one woman.
It was the state Supreme Court that had previously declared it unconstitutional to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Now, it is being asked to decide whether voters can take away rights that the court granted.
You can watch the proceedings here: www.calchannel.com. (Isn’t it nice that California webcasts these things???)
You may recognize Kenneth Starr, our old friend from the Clinton impeachment days, representing Protect Marriage, the anti-gay marriage side of this fight.
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For added interest, Air America’s Ana Marie Cox is liveblogging the event.
As the San Francisco Chronicle notes:
The anti-Prop. 8 forces head into the hearing with political support from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and both houses of the Legislature, which passed nonbinding resolutions this week calling the initiative unconstitutional.
They even have won support from Attorney General Jerry Brown, who defended the earlier marriage law in court last year. Brown argues that Prop. 8 exceeds the legal boundaries of an initiative by withdrawing "inalienable" rights – equality and privacy – from a minority without a compelling reason.
But if history is any indication, those seeking to overturn the ballot measure are swimming upstream.
Because Prop. 8 amended the state Constitution, opponents can no longer rely on that document’s guarantees of equal treatment and personal liberty to grant gays and lesbians the right to marry.
Instead, advocates of same-sex marriage argue that Prop. 8, by withdrawing fundamental rights the court had sought to protect, assaulted the state Constitution itself.