Gay marriage advocates petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down California’s Proposition 8 and declare state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional, as their unmistakable purpose and effect is to stigmatize gays and lesbians.
The court will hear arguments in the case on March 26, and consider the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage benefits the following day.
The Supreme Court in December agreed to review a federal appeals court's ruling finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and whether backers of the law have a legal right to defend the law in the federal courts when the governor and attorney general refuse to do so.
The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the voter-approved Proposition 8 measure violates the civil rights of gay men and lesbians.
Two same-sex couples challenged the 2008 California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage in Hollingsworth v. Perry. "We felt it was extremely important to present to the Supreme Court the entire panoply of this case," said former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, one of the key lawyers for the two couples, one of them Berkeley's Sandy Stier and Kristin Perry.
Backers of Proposition 8 argue states have the authority to define marriage for a variety of reasons, including its importance to procreation and child-raising. More than a dozen states have backed Proposition 8's legality in briefs filed several weeks ago.
Lawyers for the couples say gay marriage foes have failed to prove allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would harm the institution of marriage.
The Obama administration is weighing whether to file arguments with the high court by that deadline. The Justice Department already has taken the position in court that the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.