Nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group responds to court ruling
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the California Supreme Court's split 6-1 decision today ruling that Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, is valid. As a result of the court's decision in Strauss v. Horton, California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage rights for same-sex couples. As same-sex couples and allies from across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online, YouTube video set to the song "I Won't Back Down": www.HRC.org/California.
"Today's ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality. The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex couples out of basic constitutional protections," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback. There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation's largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California."
One significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT equality. The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC's Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as HRC's National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California.
"This ruling couldn't be more out of step with what's happening across the country," said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. "We have no choice but to return this basic question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back to the voters."
"While we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8 vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the sting of this ruling," added Solmonese.
Over the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples has changed dramatically. For the first time, more Americans say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it (46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in late April.
Twelve states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009), and Maine (as of mid-September 2009, pending possible repeal effort) recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law. Five states-California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington (as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort)-plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Hawaii provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside of New York. Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional review period).
For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State-Laws.
For a summary of the history of the case and for a comprehensive listing of HRC's work in California on Proposition 8, please visit: www.HRC.org/California.
A breakdown of the ruling and interpretation by the HRC legal team will be available shortly on HRCBackStory.org: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/05/prop-8-decision-analysisprop-8-decision-analysis/
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.