It Ain’t Over Until the Last Gay Person is Eliminated

So, Prop. 8, along with its hate and ignorance is on the verge of being put into law.  However, I hope the Prop. 8 crowd haven’t broken out their champagne glasses just yet to celebrate their voting to take away a right that was already given.  Apparently there are still millions of votes left to count, and there is only a slim 400,000 vote difference between the yes and the NO. 

And, thank god there are good people out there because many groups are now suing to have the whole thing invalidated.  You can read about it here.  And because it makes me happy, I am going to copy it here as well.

Latest News

November 5, 2008

Legal Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Proposition 8, Should It Pass

Legal Papers Claim Initiative Procedure Cannot Be Used To Undermine the Constitution’s Core Commitment To Equality For Everyone

SAN FRANCISCOThe American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.

The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works. Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn’t happen with Proposition 8, and that’s why it’s invalid.

“If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw – it removes a protected constitutional right – here, the right to marry – not from all Californians, but just from one group of us,” said Jenny Pizer, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal. “That’s too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters.”

“A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities. Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can initiate such revisions to the constitution,” added Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

The lawsuit was filed today in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California and 6 same-sex couples who did not marry before Tuesday’s election but would like to be able to marry now.

The groups filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court before the elections presenting similar arguments because they believed the initiative should not have appeared on the ballot, but the court dismissed that petition without addressing its merits. That earlier order is not precedent here.

“Historically, courts are reluctant to get involved in disputes if they can avoid doing so,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. “It is not uncommon for the court to wait to see what happens at the polls before considering these legal arguments. However, now that Prop 8 may pass, the courts will have to weigh in and we believe they will agree that Prop 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.”

This would not be the first time the court has struck down an improper voter initiative. In 1990, the court stuck down an initiative that would have added a provision to the California Constitution stating that the “Constitution shall not be construed by the courts to afford greater rights to criminal defendants than those afforded by the Constitution of the United States.” That measure was invalid because it improperly attempted to strip California’s courts of their role as independent interpreters of the state’s constitution.

In a statement issued earlier today, the groups stated their conviction, which is shared by the California Attorney General, that the state will continue to honor the marriages of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who have already married in California. A copy of the statement as well as the writ petition filed today is available a www.aclu.org/lgbt, www.lambdalegal.org, and www.nclrights.org.

In addition to the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, the legal team bringing the writ also includes the Law Office of David C. Codell; Munger Tolles & Olson, LLP; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

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. www.nclrights.org

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. www.lambdalegal.org

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. www.aclu.org

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. www.eqca.org

As I said, I was pretty upset last night.  But the Obama victory made me think about this possible defeat in a different light.  President-Elect Obama mentioned gays in his opening speech.  It was the first time that I cried that night.  I’ve put the Youtube video below and he mentions us in Minute 3.  I was so happy.  I am still so very happy. 

And although we might have just suffered a setback on the state level, now is the time to expect a massive change on the Federal Level.  As I said before, the Federal Hate Crime Legislation will now pass.  ENDA will now pass.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be tossed in the trash-heap of bad American history.  DOMA will be tossed as well.  During his time as president, we can expect that he will be placing new Supreme Court judges.  Roe v Wade is safe.  We are going to be safe in this country.  Mark my words, this isn’t over.  In a way, this is just the beginning for our own Civil Rights struggle in this country.  And like other groups who received their civil rights, the glbt community will as well.  As a student said to me today, it will take time.

Another thing to remember–nearly 5 MILLION people voted for fairness and equality for all in California.  That is nearly 2 MILLION more than voted for us in 2000!  That is something to remember and to be thankful for.  2 million more people realized that hate and ignorance have to place in this society.  And all these people can’t be just gay people voting for gay rights.  These are straight friends, allies, family members.  We owe them a massive thanks and we should also remind them that this is not over.  We are going to need to call on them again, very soon, so support equality for all.  So far only 52% of those who voted in California voted to take away another group’s rights.  This is quite the decline in support for hate and ignorance, compared to 2000.  Never again do we need to hear "60% of Californians voted to keep traditional marriage."  My guess is that they won’t be saying "52%" because that sounds weak, and is weak.

As I said, I hope the Yes on 8 haven’t popped the champagne corks and congratulated themselves on taking away a group’s rights.  The fight for freedom for everyone has just begun.  Strap yourselves it–it is going to be a fun ride!

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