Calif. Lawmakers Introduce Resolutions Opposing Prop. 8

Two California lawmakers and openly gay members of the Legislature have introduced measures supporting the repeal of Proposition 8.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Mark Leno and state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, both Democratic lawmakers from San Francisco, introduced concurrent resolutions that seek to put the California Legislature on record opposing Proposition 8, the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage approved by 52 percent of voters last month.

The bills argue that the measure, which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, was an illegal "constitutional revision" that should have been passed by two-thirds vote by both houses of the legislature before being submitted before voters.

But backers of the controversial measure contend it was an amendment that was legally enacted through the state's initiative process.

The non-binding resolution would put the state's lawmakers on record in support of arguments made in the lawsuits challenging Proposition 8.

Legal experts have said the resolution will unlikely affect the ruling by the California Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case in Spring 2009.

"This is the court's decision, not the Legislature's, just as whether you balance the budget is the Legislature's decision and not the court's," said Jesse Choper, the Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley's School of Law, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Supporters of Proposition 8 accused the lawmakers of "grandstanding for the cameras."

"You'd think that these legislators would be focused on resolving the budget deficit or improving the economy," said Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, which headed the Yes on 8 campaign. "Instead, they seem more interested in grandstanding for the cameras and thumbing their noses at voters who enacted Proposition 8 by a nearly 600,000 vote margin."

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that the measure received its strongest support from evangelical Christians (85 percent) and Republicans (77 percent).

Andrew Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, said he was confident Proposition 8 will be upheld.

"The Court is not swayed by meaningless legislative resolutions that have no bearing on the outcome of the court challenges," said Pugno. "This resolution adds nothing to the debate about the validity of Proposition 8."

The bills introducing the resolutions were supported by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Legislative Caucus and several gay rights groups including Equality California, which is behind one of the three lawsuits challenging the measure.

Forty-four state lawmakers have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8. The three individual cases are Strauss v. Horton Tyler v. Horton, and San Francisco v. Horton.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown and lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign have until December 19 to submit arguments to the state Supreme Court explaining why the measure should be upheld.

In May, the California Supreme Court overturned a 2000 state law banning same-sex marriage. The passage of Proposition 8 reversed the court's ruling.

In addition to determining the validity of Proposition 8, the court is also expected to decide the fate of some 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the state.