Statement on the California Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Proposition 8

Speak Out California
Statement on the California Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Proposition 8

The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that denies a specified group of our citizens the same rights as other Californians are allowed.
It is unfortunate that instead of being in the forefront of civil and human rights California is now in the position of denying a core human right to a selected group.
We are pleased that the Court allowed 18,000 couples whose decision to make a life commitment to each other to keep that right, but this apparently one-time-offer is no longer available to others who wish to have the same rights as all other Californians. This has happened because of a misguided and deceptively misleading religiously-based ballot initiative that was financed by big money from out of state and the intolerance of other well-funded organizations.
This is not over. The next step is to bring the matter back to the people. This time we need to dispel the fears and hatred that drove Prop. 8 by making it clear that it is a fundamental issue of human dignity for people to have the right to choose a life partner.
We at Speak Out California look forward to participating in that effort and in finally allowing all people the right to marry in the state of California, as many other states have now recognized as a fundamental right and a matter of simple human decency.
Please click here to join our ranks at Speak Out California, and please join the Courage Campaign’s Fearless efforts to organize the fight to bring equal rights to all Californians, and visit
In addition, please join the Meet in the Middle for Equality rally in Fresno, Saturday May 30, 1:00pm at City Hall.
Here is the Courage Campaign “Fidelity” video:

Please read the following statements by California and national leaders on this unfortunate decision:  (We will continue to post statements through the day.)

Speaker Pelosi:
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court in support of Proposition 8 is deeply disappointing because this ballot initiative takes away individual rights.
I have long fought for equality for all of California’s families and will strongly support efforts to restore marriage equality in California, so it can join the ranks of states such as Iowa and Vermont.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles):
Today is a setback for equality in California, but it will not be the end of the story. When marriage equality legislation was first introduced in the legislature it couldn’t get out of committee. Since then we’ve passed marriage equality bills twice and more than 60 legislators signed the amicus brief last November trying to overturn the inequities in Proposition 8. The people of California and the tide of history are clearly moving toward equality. While everyone who believes in equal treatment under the law is disappointed by the court’s decision today, we should all take pride in the fact that truth and time are on our side. My colleagues and I in the Assembly will continue to work to promote equality for all Californians in any way that we can.
Lt. Gov. Garamendi:
Today we lost an important battle, but on this disappointing day, it’s worth remembering that the final outcome of this struggle has already been determined. Time is on our side, and Californians will one day soon repeal Proposition 8. Patti and I have been married for 43 years, and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the LGBT community and their allies as they work to convince the electorate that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve access to marriage and equality. While we will always face roadblocks, our society journeys down a path of increased equality under the law.
Senator Mark Leno:
“Today’s decision is extremely disappointing for California and hurts thousands of caring couples who wish to make lifelong commitments to one another through marriage. Let today’s decision be a rallying cry for all Californians who believe in equality and fairness, and encourage thousands more to stand up and fight the pervasive injustices LGBT people face in our community and our nation.”
“The issue before this court was much greater than marriage equality. The question asked of our justices goes to the core of our society. Can a majority vote undermine a foundation stone of our constitutional democracy, equal protection under the law? Today our highest court ruled that minorities do not matter.”
“Through our disappointment, we will still find hope and encouragement, including the 18,000 couples whose marriages in California remain secure and protected today. Through our sadness, our resolve to fight for justice and equality only grows stronger. Love is an unstoppable force, and equality is right around the corner.”
Assemblymember Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch):
In my years working with kids, what I know to be true is that kids thrive when they have parents in their lives that are committed to one another and are part of a stable, loving family. The decision today is a set back for equality, but also for children. Children deserve to see the state’s highest court uphold the civil rights of their parents and recognize the validity of their relationships.
Assemblymember Dave Jones, former Chair Assembly Judiciary Committee:
“In my view, Proposition 8 was a revision of the California constitution, not an amendment. Any constitutional revision must first be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before being placed on a ballot for a vote of the people. I believe today’s decision betrays the sacred trust of every Californian who depends on the Court to protect them from pernicious discrimination. Like Justice Moreno, I believe that ‘requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution…'”
Janice Rocco, NOW’s Southwest Regional Director:
“The court has permitted a bare majority of voters to eliminate the fundamental rights of a minority. The act of writing discrimination into our state’s constitution is a shameful chapter in our state’s history. The attitudes and long-held beliefs that allowed a slim majority to pass this discriminatory initiative are changing rapidly and soon the majority will support equal marriage rights. Those of us who fight for equality know that it won’t be long before we are successful in amended the constitution to provide equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. This is one of the most significant civil rights issues of our time and today’s decision is devastating for same-sex couples and all those who support equality and justice for all.”
Assemblymember Marty Block:
Harvey Milk once said “I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive.” I can’t think of more fitting words on a day like today.
Even as someone who is accustomed to writing and giving speeches, I find it very difficult to find the words powerful enough to convey my disagreement and sadness with the California Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8.
From a purely legal standpoint, I honestly believe their decision was flawed; from a civil rights standpoint, I feel it is just plain wrong.
California often sets the national tone on key issues. Change is rarely easy, even when it is right. Today we have all taken a step away from what is right.
While it seems absurd today that a law that prohibits a person’s right to marry could ever be conceived, let alone enforced, we must all remember that it wasn’t so long ago in our great state that it would have been illegal for a person of one color to marry a person of another.
The battle for marriage equality isn’t a battle for special rights; it’s a battle for equal rights. Together, we must turn our anger and frustration into something positive. Together, we must work to ensure that all Californians are granted the same rights and liberties and treated equally under the law.

Assemblymember Noreen Evans:

“Here in this country and in this state we have witnessed a long parade of court decisions upholding the treatment of African Americans and women as property and denying them the right to vote; upholding the state’s legal authority to round up Asian Americans and imprison them for no reason other than fear; denying the rights of others to marry and hold property because of their race, creed or color. Today’s Supreme Court decision joins this pantheon of shame.”
Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:
Today’s decision, while heartbreaking, doesn’t end the historic struggle for marriage equality. It renews our dedication to making sure all California families can again enjoy the dignity, commitment and responsibility of marriage.
I commend the California Supreme Court for validating the rights of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who married last year before Proposition 8 passed. These couples and their children will continue to enjoy the full security and legal protection of marriage.
Within the next few years, I know California will restore legal, civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples. The California Democratic Party will play a leading role in ending marriage discrimination in California and I look forward to the day when that happens.
Senator Barbara Boxer:
Unfortunately, with this decision, I am concerned that we are back to square one on the issue of equal rights for same-sex couples.
This ruling sets up a very unfair reality in California where some same-sex couples will have their marriages affirmed, while many more will be denied their fundamental rights.
I remain committed to working actively with people across the state to make sure that same-sex couples have equal rights under the law.
Senator Feinstein:
“I know today’s decision is a tremendous disappointment for many people. But I also know that the opinions of Californians are changing on this issue, and I believe that equal marriage rights will one day be the law in this state. This is already the case in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. So, I believe this issue will come before the voters again, and I am very hopeful that the result will be different next time.
Today’s State Supreme Court ruling also declares that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that have already taken place in California are valid, and I believe these marriages will allow people to see for themselves that marriage equality is a step forward for California and not a step back.”
Service Employees International Union:
“Equality is a value dear to our union’s members,” said SEIU International Executive VP Mary Kay Henry. “We opposed Prop. 8 and the forces of division and discrimination that produced it. This ruling merely delays the day of regaining an important aspect of equality in California. It does not diminish the dignity of our members and their relationships or our determination to win equality in this country.”
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner:
“This is a decision that affects all Californians in a very personal way. It impacts my family in saying that somehow my daughter’s love for the woman who is her partner is not as valid as the love others have for the opposite sex.
Eliminating the legal right of marriage has implications on all of us whose children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, or others may be gay. Removing the legal rights bestowed by marriage not only denies legal benefits to same sex couples, it changes our legal relationships–a daughter’s partner’s child is no longer legally our grandchild, a brother’s partner may no longer be considered our brother-in-law.
The role of our courts is to protect each and every one of us against discrimination, even that discrimination that may be favored by voters.
I am deeply disappointed that our state’s Supreme Court has upheld discrimination and has denied all of us a basic legal right to marry and to be legally related by marriage.”

5 thoughts on “Statement on the California Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Proposition 8

  1. Legal scholars and others who have even the most rudimentary ability to comprehend the English language need to speak out against the absurdity of this decision and the judges who ruled in the majority. Even if one believes that there is a legally principled argument for upholding Prop 8, there is NO principled argument for upholding it AND at the same time ruling that the existing 18,000 same-sex marriages are valid, since the constitution under Prop 8 clearly says that NO same-sex marriages are valid, with no exception! This grossly unprincipled decision that introduces an arbitrary moment in time that divides valid from invalid same-sex marriages not only cannot be supported under the wording of the Proposition, but it creates a bureaucratic nightmare because a bunch of judges were too cowardly to choose yes or no.

  2. We have met the enemy and he is us.
    People who didn’t bother to vote. People who were so occupied with the national election that they didn’t pay serious attention to the Prop 8 fight because polls said it was losing. People who didn’t mount an effort to counteract the lies that were blasted from the TV. All of these are to blame for the mess we’re in…and not only Prop 8. There’s enough shame to go around.
    So we can’t blame the court alone for the weakness in the State Constitution. This flaw should have been corected long ago; it flies in the face of the founding fathers’ fears of tyranny by the majority.
    We need 3 initiatives,in order: (1) Rescind Prop 8. Andk while we’re at it, rescind the requirment for a 2/3 vote to pass a budget.
    (2) Then, require a 2/3 vote to amend the state constitution.
    Then,(3) let’s pass a law requiring any other initiative short of a Constitutional Amendment from requiring a majority to amend or rescind greater than the vote that passed it.
    The rest of the humilitating bind CA is in can be traced to those initiatives that are passed by a bare majority on a low-turnout election but require a super-majority to amend or rescind.

  3. The Court’s decision does seem absurd. But they only ruled on a very narrow question of whether Prop-8 was an amendment or a revision to the constitution. The decision was not a total surprise.
    I’m more troubled by how this decision implies that court is subservient to the “fourth branch of government” – the voters.
    If “we the people” say that separate but equal is good enough for gays, then the court can’t do anything about it.
    The Court has overturned voter initiatives in the past (the “open primary” comes to mind). Why not now?

  4. Im very pro anybody’s rights. personally after 3 marriages and 4 pre-nups. i could care less who gets married. with that said. I was against prop 8.
    Im very pro-freedom. i will fight for a gay couple to marry and i will fight against that gay couple if they try and sue a church for not letting them get married there. btw.. im unitarian and we have allowed gay couples for decades
    you can’t tell me the 14th amendment should violate the 1st amendment.

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