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U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Proposition 8 Case

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the United States Supreme Court issued an order granting review in Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown), the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8.  Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.  With today's order, the Supreme Court will consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.  On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court also granted review in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.

"This case is about the fundamental constitutional right of all Americans to marry the person they love.  The plaintiffs we represent are two loving couples who, like millions of other gay and lesbian Americans, are being denied the right to marry and the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law," said Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson.  "The Supreme Court's decision to grant review in this case illustrates the national significance of marriage equality, and brings us closer to the day when every American will be able to equally enjoy the fundamental freedom to marry."

"Fourteen times the Supreme Court has stated the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights—if not the most fundamental right—of all Americans," said Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel David Boies. "As we have said from the very beginning of this case, the denial of that fundamental right seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.  It serves no legitimate state interest.  We are ready to defend our victories before the Supreme Court, where we will urge the Justices to reaffirm our Constitution's central promises of liberty, equality, and human dignity."

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of the Perry case.

"Today is a milestone day for equal justice under the law and for millions of loving couples who want to make a lifelong commitment through marriage," said AFER co-founder Chad Griffin.  "Proposition 8 has already been declared unconstitutional in Federal District Court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now the Supreme Court has an opportunity to do the same and send a resounding message of hope to LGBT young people from coast to coast that they have the same dignity and same opportunities for the future as everyone else.  I believe our cherished constitutional principles will win the day and that the Court will uphold the fundamental right that all Americans can marry the one they love."

"Gay and lesbian couples across the nation are one step closer to achieving the full and equal right to marry denied to them by discriminatory laws like Proposition 8," said Bruce Cohen, president of AFER's Board of Directors.  "Today marks the final chapter of a journey that we started four years ago, and I am thrilled to see that marriage equality is finally within our grasp."

"This is the moment we have been fighting for since we first filed this case," said AFER executive director Adam Umhoefer.  "In just the last few years, America has witnessed extraordinary momentum toward marriage equality for all.  Multiple federal court decisions and a majority of Americans recognize that it is past time that the nation redeem our Constitution's promise of liberty and equality for all by ensuring that every American has the right to marry the person they love.  Make no mistake, with two lower court victories and the Constitution on our side, we will prevail."

On July 30, 2012, the proponents of Proposition 8 asked the Supreme Court to review the February 2012 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the historic August 2010 judgment of the Federal District Court that struck down Proposition 8.  The Ninth Circuit held:

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.  The Constitution simply does not allow for 'laws of this sort.'"

On June 5, 2012, the full Ninth Circuit denied Proponents' request for an eleven-judge panel to rehear the case, known as rehearing en banc.

Having granted Proponents' request for review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court will now receive written briefs from the parties and hear oral argument by April 2013.  A decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 is expected by the end of June 2013.

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