Prop 8 Opponents to Court: Hurry Up!

Prop 8 plaintiffs. Photo: KQED

In some ways the Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA) is the biggest federal barrier to equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It prevents same sex couples who get married in states where it’s legal from getting federal rights bestowed on other married couples, like tax breaks and Social Security benefits when a spouse dies.


So when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama Administration would no longer defend DOMA, civil rights advocates cheered. Some in the LGBT community, notably Geoff Kors of Equality California, have been seering in their criticism of what they saw as Obama’s hypocrisy after promising to be a “fierce advocate” for gay rights in his 2008 campaign.

Less than two hours after that announcement, attorneys opposing Prop. 8 were on a conference call with reporters. Conservative Republican-turned gay rights champion Ted Olson hailed the administration’s decision — and deftly blended it into court filings with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals his side had made.

Olson’s team wants the 9th Circuit to lift its stay of federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision striking down Prop. 8 as unconstitutional. That motion was already in play when Wednesday’s blockbuster announcement came from the AG. The reason: Olson et al say justice delayed is justice denied — and that Prop. 8 brands same sex couples in California as “different, inferior and unequal” forcing them to wear a “badge of inferiority”.

But legal experts like David Levine of UC Hastings Law School and Katherine Darmer of Chapman Law School in Orange County (who by the way supports same sex marriage) strongly doubt the Appeals Court will lift the stay. Why? Because while the political landscape changes swiftly, courts are more deliberate and cautious — even the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit. The last thing they want is for the Supreme Court to step in again and slap them down.

But Olson and his partner David Boies are also asking the state Supreme Court to hurry up its schedule for deciding whether California law allows Prop. 8 backers to defend the measure in court since neither the Governor nor the State Attorney General will. As it now stands oral arguments in that legal detour won’t be held before September.

Scott Shafer Recaps Yesterday’s Same-Sex Marriage Developments 12 March,2013Scott Shafer

  • Theresar

    I know the Republicans in Congress are going to want to defend DOMA in court, but really do they want to? Do they want to go against an 81 year old widow? Spend the resources of the government to defend something that won’t make any difference to the average American who needs a job? Really? Why would they do such a thing when it can so easily be thrown in their faces in the next election? Instead of working on getting middle class and poor families on their feet, they’d be spending their time and tax payer’s money on a lawsuit against a little old lady! NOT a good position to take. Better to let everyone in a LEGAL relationship marry if they want to, as they aren’t breaking any laws, and let the states collect the marriage revenue!

  • jen smith

    I believe equality among men and women. There is religious differences on the gay-and-lesbian issue, yet they can still claim for their legal rights. We always have differences – in politics, in religion… Here is a video clip – that you should watch before you shout ‘Down With DOMA’. Any person should know that same sex marriage would still be the issue in the future; unless, we resolve the problem today.


Scott Shafer

Scott Shafer migrated to KQED in 1998 after extended stints in politics and government to host The California¬† Report. Now he covers those things and more as senior editor for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk. When he’s not asking questions you’ll often find him in a pool playing water polo. Find him on Twitter @scottshafer

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