Chief District Judge Vaughn R. Walker will hear closing arguments today in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. Attorneys on both sides of the case filed papers on Tuesday and the plaintiffs said they were not seeking new constitutional protections, only access to "an existing constitutional right that has long been denied to gay men and lesbians." As the Washington Post reported this morning:
The plaintiffs are two couples—lesbians from the Bay area and gay men from Southern California—who are represented by former Republican U.S. solicitor general Theodore B. Olson and his Democratic rival in Bush v. Gore, David Boies.
Their Tuesday filing to Walker said their clients were not seeking a “new” constitutional right, but simply access to “an existing constitutional right that has long been denied to gay men and lesbians.
“The mere longevity of those discriminatory and irrational restrictions on the right to marry is a constitutionally inadequate ground for continuing to exclude gay men and lesbians from this vital personal right.”
The plaintiffs said Proposition 8’s restrictions violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and serve no legitimate governmental interest.
You can read more background by viewing the website of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Mainstream news outlets are set to cover today's closing arguments extensively along with a wealth of LGBT press outlets and LGBT and progressive bloggers. You can also follow the Advocate’s live video and Twitter coverage. And Karen Ocamb of LGBT POV provides a comprehensive guide to to Wednesday's closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, here. Here's an excerpt from Ocamb:
The timing is synchronous with the two-year anniversary of the first legal marriages in California on June 16, 2008. And not coincidentally, the lawsuit at the center of the challenge, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, was launched by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) in Los Angeles on May 27, 2009 – the day after the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Prop 8. This was the same court that ruled a year earlier, on May 15, 2008, that same sex couples had been denied the fundamental constitutional right to marry. To underscore just how this profound fight for the freedom to marry transcends partisan politics, AFER brought together two of the best legal minds in America – Ted Olson and David Boies – who had been on opposing sides in the historic Bush v. Gore case in 2000.
To lay people like me, the federal Prop 8 case seems to boil down to the constitutional rights of gays as a group of historically disadvantaged people versus the political will of “the people” based on their religious beliefs. After the majority of the case concluded last Januray, philosopher/columnist Linda Hirshman wrote in the Daily Beast that the “gay-marriage case now unfolding in a San Francisco courtroom may be the most important battle between tradition and modernity since the Scopes trial.”
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported today that Defendant-intervenors in the Proposition 8 trial on Tuesday urged Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to rule that government agencies, courts, and businesses no longer have to recognize the marriages of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who were married before the passage of Proposition 8.
GLAAD will be keeping a close eye on all of the media covereage of this historic case today and in the coming weeks. Check back with us for updates.