Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Hails 9th Circuit’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Hails 9th Circuit?s Same-Sex Marriage Decision


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New York, Feb. 7, 2012—The Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School applauds the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision today invalidating Proposition 8, which amended California’s Constitution to deny marriage to same-sex couples.

In part, the ruling echoed arguments set out in the Clinic’s amicus brief filed in October 2010. In its brief, the clinic argued that California has no legitimate reason to have different marriage rules for same- and different-sex couples when it treats those couples identically in all other ways.
“The bottom line is that Proposition 8’s marriage rights repeal had no purpose other than to injure gay couples’ status and dignity,” said Columbia Law School Herbert & Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the school’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic and co-director of its Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. “As the court found, this targeted removal of rights defies decades of equality jurisprudence that bars states from legislating based on hostility.”
The decision was also hailed by Katherine Franke, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and co-director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.  
“Anticipating an appeal two the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit went out of its way to ground its decision in the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the passage of Proposition 8 in California, thus narrowing the potential damage of a Supreme Court appeal,” Franke said. “Rather than issue a broad ruling about the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to civil marriage, the appellate court made clear that the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 lay in the withdrawal of marriage rights already granted to same-sex couples in California, and in the fact that the proposition’s passage in 2008 was justified by a desire to lessen the status of lesbians and gays in California, rather than any ‘legitimate’ non-discriminatory concerns.”
Goldberg, whose co-counsel on the brief is California lawyer Susan Popik, of Chapman, Popik & White LLP, wrote the brief on behalf of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, the American Humanist Association, and Courage Campaign Institute.
To read the brief, click here.
Click here to read the case summary and full decision.
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