Lawsuits filed against California same-sex marriage banNovember 6th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS
San Francisco, Nov 6 (DPA) Six months after the California Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California, voters in the usually liberal state narrowly voted for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.But defenders of same-sex marriage immediately filed three lawsuits, claiming the voter initiative improperly attempted “to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group - lesbian and gay Californians.”
The voting — 52 percent against gay marriage and 48 in favour, threw into doubt the more than 18,000 same-sex unions that have already taken place in the state since the court ruled that banning such marriages was discriminatory.
The measure was among the most closely watched ballot initiatives in the United States and was fuelled by a record $73 million of spending during the campaign. Voters in Arizona and Florida also backed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
The lawsuits were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Clara, and an attorney for the first gay couple to legally wed in the state.
“The point of equal protection is that everybody is supposed to have the same rights, and minorities are protected against a majority that would abuse the minority,” said Jenny Pizer, a lawyer for Lambda Legal.
The amendment was proposed by a broad coalition of religious and conservative groups whose main strategy was based on the argument that failure to pass it would lead to the teaching of gay marriage issues in the state’s thousands of public schools.
That claim, repeated in TV ads replete with horror film music, disturbing black and white graphics and doom-laden voice-overs, was largely without factual merit. But it still reached its target audience in the state’s conservative inland areas.
Just as importantly, it also appeared to persuade California’s millions of black and Hispanic voters, who turned out in higher numbers to back Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama but whose views on gay rights are less progressive than many other Democrats.