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Jan 31, 2011: Dueling Letters to the CA Supreme Court: This Week in Prop 8 for January 31, 2011
Ted Olson, a lead attorney on the case against Prop 8, sent a letter to the California Supreme Court this week, explaining why, in his opinion, the court shouldn't intervene in the case.
His position boils down to "none of your business," arguing that this is a matter for federal, not state, courts.
The case is stuck in a holding pattern right now, while everyone tries to figure out whether the anti-gay proponents of Prop 8 can take the place of Attorney General Kamala Harris in defending the law in court.
If the California Supreme Court agrees and doesn't intervene, then the case would be decided quickly and, most likely, against Prop 8. From there, it would move to the United State Supreme Court.
But if the California Supreme Court does intervene, it would be mean lengthy delays, possibly over a year, and a win for the gay couples would be far less predictable. That's why Olson wants the Supreme Court to stay out of it.
Also filing letters were the proponents of Prop 8. They want the Supreme Court to intervene. And the city and county of San Francisco took a novel in-betweeny position, arguing that if the court intervenes, it should reformulate its approach in a way that is more favorable to the plaintiffs.
The Supreme Court will make its decision sometime this spring. But in the mean time, this week's comment bait asks, should the State Supreme Court get involved?
Ted Olson says no, the question of who defends a ballot proposition is spelled out in Article Three of the U S Constitution, and therefore a state court cannot rule on the matter.
Proponents say yes, California Court Rules say that the Supreme Court can answer questions when there is no controlling precedent.
And San Francisco says maybe, but if the court does intervene, it should consider that no one would be hurt if Prop 8 was overturned.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Meanwhile, in Wyoming, there was disappointing progress on one of several bills jostling for passage that would limit marriage. One, which would allow voters to nullify the marriage of any gay couple the moment they enter the state, passed both the house and senate this week.
But there's some room for hope. Wyoming governor Matt Mead expressed concerns about the bill, saying, quote, we do not want to, as a state, limit access to our court system.
The bill is also opposed by Senator Chris Rothfuss, a Democrat from Laramie. Yes, THAT Laramie.
There's also encouraging news this week.
The Human Rights Campaign released a report showing that support for gay marriage continues to increase in every state. And polling shows a majority supporting equal marriage in seventeen states, including battlegrounds like Maryland, Hawaii, New York, and Rhode Island.
In Hawaii, a civil union bill is sailing through the legislature towards a supportive governor, Democrat Neil Abercrombie. And in Maryland, legislators introduced an equal marriage bill this week, with hearings scheduled for February 8th.
Iowa remains a cliffhanger. This week a Republican attempt to force a vote on gay couples' marriages was defeated by Democrats, and although the measure is expected to pass the House, Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has promised to block it in the Senate.
A hearing on the bill last week was attended by organizations on both sides of the debate, including an anti-gay group called The Family Leader. That group promised to bring cookies to share with gay couples, claiming that by doing so, they were, quote, tangibly showing love to people who struggle with homosexuality.
So to sum up, what they're saying is, no, you can't visit your husband in the hospital. If you divorce, you can't share custody of your kids. If one of you dies, you'll lose your house. And if your wife is from another country, she'll be deported. But here. Have a cookie.
Worse yet, photos from the event show that the cookies were store-bought.
A public hearing on the Iowa legislation is scheduled for Monday evening at 6:30 pm at the statehouse. You can follow along with One Iowa at twitter dot com slash oneiowa.
This week's action item focuses on Maryland, where legislators are waiting to hear from constituents on the The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
If you live in Maryland, the site will allow you to ask your legislator point-blank, "Do you support my gay friends' freedom to marry?"
And if you don't live in Maryland, the site will help you spread the news online, to find Marylanders who can participate. We be checking in with the Friend Factor gang next week to see how their efforts in Maryland are going.
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