By this summer, California Supreme Court judges will determine the fate of same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 passed last November.
UC Davis law professor Courtney Joslin co-authored and submitted a friend-of-the-court brief this month that argues that Prop 8 should in no way affect the validity of those marriages.
Joslin, one of 28 law professors from 15 California schools who submitted the brief, said she and her colleagues felt compelled to weigh in on the case due to their extensive experience and expertise in past family law cases, many of which laid the groundwork for current family case law.
Though the case also considers two challenges to Prop 8 itself, the law scholars felt they could best benefit the public by focusing their brief on the status of existing same-sex marriages, Joslin said.
“We made clear in the brief that we agree with the parties that argue that Proposition 8 is invalid, but confined the brief to Prop 8‘s effect on previous marriages,” she said.
Expected to be heard sometime in March, the case will consider briefs both for and against the challenge, whose authors range from passionate individuals to groups of lawyers and law professors.
Many of the briefs treat just one of the three distinct arguments of the case.
A brief filed on behalf of the Pacific Justice Institute, for instance, challenges the argument that Prop 8 should be considered a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution.
Revisions are performed by legislators and require a two-thirds vote.
Though there is no precedent for invalidating a proposition in this manner, if the argument is accepted, it would constitute a violation of a voter’s rights, said PJI president Brad Dacus.
“As a civil liberties organization we think it is very important that the integrity of the electoral process be preserved,” Dacus said.
According to Dacus, the revision versus amendment argument is not structurally valid as a reason for the court to strike down Prop 8.
“Any decision of the Supreme Court to do so would be a clear breach of public trust and a slap in the face to the rights of every voter,” he said.
Though many Californians are crossing their fingers that Prop 8 will be overturned, others instead turn to more pragmatic options.
Formed by community organizers from Davis and Sacramento, Yes! On Equality is one such group looking for new, realistic options.
“Trying to prove [Prop 8] is a revision will be a difficult thing to do,” said Yes! On Equality coordinator Chaz Lowe. “Now that we’ve done rallies and protests, we thought, ‘What’s the next step?'”
In order to avoid the mistakes of the No On 8 campaign, Yes! On Equality members began by forming alliances with major grassroots organizations such as Marriage Equality, USA and Courage Campaign as well as local LGBT centers across the state, Lowe said.
“That’s why we got together so early,” he said. “By dealing with these major institutions, and acquiring some of the major coordinators for these grassroots organizations, we feel we will have a more substantial base.“
Yes! On Equality will hold two volunteer training sessions in the coming weeks on the UC Davis campus at the LGBT center.
AARON BRUNER can be reached at email@example.com.