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Democracy at Stake in Prop. 8 Trial

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
January 9, 2010|3:54 pm

All eyes are on a federal trial, set to begin Monday, that will determine the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban.

Some are calling it the gay community's potential Brown vs. Board of Education. Others say democracy is at stake.

"What’s at stake in this case is not only the definition of marriage in California but the potential that Americans will be forced to forfeit the core of our democracy by allowing a small group of wealthy activists to impose their will on a state – or an entire nation – through the courts," Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, told The Christian Post.

Two of the nation's top litigators – Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented the opposing sides of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 – are arguing against Proposition 8.

The amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was passed by 52 percent of California voters in November 2008. The California Supreme Court last year rejected lawsuits against the amendment, ruling that it was not an illegal constitutional revision by the people nor unconstitutional. Olson and Boies filed a federal lawsuit in May just before the state high court ruling.

Defending Proposition 8, Nimocks argues that marriage is a unique institution that promotes the important interests of children and society and it should not be "forcibly transformed ... into a mere legal arrangement based only on the desires of the adults involved."

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"No other combination of people in any relationship provides the benefits to society that a union of a man and a woman does," Nimocks contends. "Same-sex 'marriage' discriminates against mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and, by design, purposely denies children the right to both a mom and a dad."

The implications of the closely-watched trial are huge.

"Historically, regarding this trial, we will ask whether Americans should remain free to consider their own moral and religious views about marriage – or any other subject – when casting their ballots and not be forced by violence and intimidation to remain silent about their deepest convictions," Nimocks notes.

Moreover, if the federal judge – in this case, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker – overturns the amendment, marriage laws in 45 states and the federal Defense of Marriage Act may ultimately be nullified, the ADF attorney adds.

Next week's trial will be videotaped and later shown on YouTube. A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an appeal by Proposition 8 supporters to prevent public broadcasting.

Traditional marriage supporters who will be questioned during the trial fear they will be subjected to threats and violence. Though also concerned, Nimocks believes that in the end, "the trial being televised will give every American the chance to see, with their own eyes, the most horrifying of propositions – that if every state constitution can be altered or eliminated by small groups of wealthy activists, the America that they’ve grown to love will be supplanted by a tyranny of the elites."

The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

 

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