Monday, January 11, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Begins Monday, January 11th

The gay couples law blog has done a wonderful job of putting together the basics about the upcoming Prop 8 trial.  I've used their post in creating my own "what you should know" list for the trial.  Thanks also to Pam's House Blend, who also published the post by the gay couples law blog.

1. The name of the case is officially  Perry v. Schwarzenegger.  Perry is the last name of Kristen Perry, who was denied a marriage license when she and her partner, Sandra Steir, applied.  Another gay couple, Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, was also denied a license and has joined in the case.  The name "Perry" refers to all four plaintiffs.

2. The couples are challenging Prop 8, saying it violates the US Constitution.  That's why they have gone to a federal court.  Rulings about same-sex marriage have typically been at the state level.

3. Representing "Perry" are two famous judges who form an unlikely legal team.  Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson is a Republican and Atty David Boies is a Democrat.  The two argued on opposite sides in Bush v Gore,  which decided the 2000 presidential election.

Although the defendant in the case is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is the Atty General of California who would usually defend the state.  The current Atty General, Jerry Brown, has decided not to defend the case because he sides with the plaintiffs and believes Prop 8 was, in fact, unconstitutional under federal law.  Therefore, a group of supporters of Prop 8 will be defending the referendum.  The main lawyer for the defendants is Charles Cooper.

4. The lawyers representing "Perry" will try to prove that the law the resulted after Prop 8's passage is unconstitutional because the US Constitution prohibits discriminatory laws without a compelling reason.  Therefore, "Perry" will try to convince the presiding judge that there is no such compelling reason to discriminate against gay couples when it comes to marriage.  The opposing side will try to prove the opposite: that the effects of gay marriage are detrimental to both heterosexual marriages as well as to society.  Expect gay parenting to be a major focus.

5. In all likelihood, the decision by the presiding judge, Judge Vaughn Walker, will not be the end of the case.  It's quite possible that the case could could reach the US Supreme Court.  A decision at that level -- perhaps years away -- could effect all states, not just California.

6. The trial will be televised with a delay.  It will also be seem in its entirety on youtube.


  1. Thanks for the breakdown... It is good to know the facts of what's going on in a language I can understand! Looks like it may be a long haul, but I am very glad to see the push for equality!