(Photo: AP Images / Mark J. Terrill)
The passage of a same-sex marriage ban for the second time in California has riled gay-rights activists, some of whom have filed legal challenges Wednesday night.
But traditional marriage supporters are decrying the court petitions, arguing that such legal actions are "a brazen attempt to gut the democratic process," said Glen Lavy, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal firm.
"The people of California have spoken yet again, but that doesn’t mean anything to radical groups that want to impose their will at all costs," he said in a statement Wednesday. "Once again, they are attempting to use the courts to push their agenda since they can’t achieve it legitimately at the ballot box."
California voters passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, 52 to 48 percent. Although the measure was approved by a slimmer margin compared to the vote in 2000 when 61 percent voted for the ban and 39 percent, against, Prop 8 supporters are calling on the public to respect the decision California voters made on Tuesday.
"This is the second time that California voters have acted to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It is time that the opponents of traditional marriage respect the voters' decision," commented Andrew Pugno, attorney for the coalition of religious and social conservative groups that sponsored the proposition.
Pugno added that the legal action against the measure is "an insult to California voters and an attack on the initiative process itself."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit, Strauss v. Horton, on behalf of several same-sex couples and the activist group Equality California.
The petition charges that Prop 8 is invalid because "the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians," Equality California stated in a press release.
"The lawsuit is completely frivolous," Lavy explained. "No structural revision to the state constitution has taken place here. The people have simply restored the definition of marriage that the constitution has always assumed."
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people protested the approved measure on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Seven people were arrested Thursday. And the fate of an estimated 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who married after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May remains unclear.
Leading up to the Nov. 4 vote, both sides of Prop 8 raised $74 million in what was said to be the nation's costliest ballot measure this year.
A coalition that included 100,000 volunteers backing Prop 8 ran ads informing the public of the wider consequences of not having the ban on same-sex marriage.
"Some say that gay marriage doesn't have anything to do with schools. But it has everything to do with schools," one ad states, highlighting one Massachusetts couple whose second grade son was taught in school that boys can marry other boys.
The "No on 8" campaign ran counter ads that outraged Christians for messages filled with "hate and intolerance." The counter commercial depicted two Mormon missionaries invading the home of a lesbian couple, taking their wedding rings and tearing up their marriage license.
Despite the legal challenges, the "Yes on 8" campaign plans to continue to defend traditional marriage and the decision California voters made.
"The coalition that has worked so hard for the past year to enact Proposition 8 will vigorously defend the People's decision against this unfortunate challenge by groups who, having lost in the court of public opinion, now turn to courts of law to pursue their agenda," Pugno stated.