Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Landmark Decision Affirming the Right to Marry

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today applauded a decision by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm the reinstatement of the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for fairness, a victory for equality and a victory for justice,” said Attorney General Harris. “Proposition 8 denied to gay and lesbian couples the equal protection to which all Americans are entitled. By striking this unconstitutional law from our books, the court has restored dignity, equality and respect to all Californians.”

The Ninth Circuit Court today upheld with Perry v. Brown the decision of Judge Vaughn Walker, which enjoins state and local officials from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage. Attorney General Harris, along with Governor Brown and other state and local officials, refused to defend the law.

In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that state laws restricting the right of same-sex couples to marry violated the state constitution. Later that year, the voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to provide that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

The California Supreme Court upheld this law against a challenge under the state constitution, but did not consider any challenge on federal constitutional grounds. Perry v. Brown raised federal constitutional challenges of equal protection and due process that were not considered by the state supreme court. After a full trial on the merits, district court Judge Vaughn Walker concluded that Proposition 8 violated these principles of due process and equal protection. His decision to enjoin enforcement of Proposition 8 was issued in 2011.

Today’s decision from the Ninth Circuit upholds that decision.

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