Today was a busy day on the same-sex marriage front.
First, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congress announcing that the Obama administration now holds the Defense of Marriage Act — the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman — to be unconstitutional.
Then, attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, who are representing same-sex couples in their suit to overturn California’s own same-sex marriage ban, announced that they had filed two important motions in the case:
First, they asked the California Supreme Court to move up the date for oral arguments in its consideration of whether Proposition 8 proponents have legal standing to defend that initiative when state officeholders have declined to do so.
Second, they requested that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lift a stay on a lower court’s ruling that declared Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. If the court agrees to lift the stay — far from a certainty — same-sex couples would be free to marry during the time the federal case is being decided.
We have audio from the press conference, and also a reaction from senior lead counsel for the Prop 8 proponents.
The first clip is from Theodore Olson’s opening statement, in which he lays out this view of the moral case for same-sex marriage. “The right to marry is not an abstract principal any more than the same might be said of the right to vote, the right to speak, or the right to practice one’s religion,” he says.
Olson: Marriage is a fundamental right, and denial of that right stigmatizes gays and lesbians as second-class citizens[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/02/Prop8OlsonDiscrimination.mp3]
Here, Olson announces that plaintiffs are asking the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay on enforcement of Proposition 8:
Olson: “We submit that further delay is intolerable.”[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/02/Prop8OlsonLiftStay.mp3]
Here, David Boies says if the California Supreme Court rules that the defendants don’t have standing, their appeal will be dismissed. If the court determines that Prop 8 proponents have standing under state law, Boies says, the court will have to decide if they have standing under federal law.
Boies on the issue of “standing”[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/02/Prop8BoiesStandingDecision.mp3]
Full press conference:
- Boies/Olson press conference Pt 1
- Boies/Olson press conference Pt 2
- Boies/Olson press conference Pt 3
After the announcement, KQED’s Scott Shafer interviewed Austin Nimmocks, the Senior Legal Counsel representing the official proponents of Proposition 8.
Mr. Nimmocks gave his reaction to today’s announcement by the Obama administration that it would not defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. He also gave his reaction to the request by the Prop 8 plaintiffs to lift the stay on same-sex marriage. To the question of whether the public’s attitude may be shifting away from the Proposition 8 side, he said, “There will always be radical elements of our society that advocate for redefining marriage.”
Austin Nimmocks, counsel representing Prop 8 proponents, reacts to today’s events[audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/02/AustinNimmocks.mp3]