Calif. Legislature Goes on Record Opposing Prop. 8

Both houses of the state Legislature went on record on Monday opposing the validity of Proposition 8, the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, just days before the California Supreme Court takes up the issue.

The House and the Senate considered two nearly identical resolutions, stating that the Legislature opposes Proposition 8 because it is "an improper revision, not an amendment, of the California Constitution." As a revision, the resolution states, the measure should have been approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature before being submitted to the voters during the November election.

The vote was split along party lines, with the Assembly approving the resolution 45 to 27 and the Senate, 18 to 14. Several members were absent in both chambers.

The measures were introduced by two San Francisco Democrats, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Sen. Mark Leno, the first openly gay man elected to the Senate, according to his Web site.

On the Senate floor, Leno called Proposition 8 a "radical revision" of the Constitution, saying it strips constitutional rights away from minority groups and should have been reviewed by the Legislature first.

Supporters of Proposition 8, however, maintain that the state should uphold the "will of more than 7 million Californians" who approved the measure.

"The California Constitution gives the people of California the right to propose and adopt amendments," stated the National Organization of Marriage in a letter to California lawmakers.

"The courts may consider the validity of an amendment. The separation of powers demands that the legislature now step aside and defer to the expressed will of the people."

Proposition 8, which codified California's Defense of Marriage Act to the state Constitution, was approved by 52 percent of voters in November. The measure, which defined marriage between a man and a woman, overturned the California Supreme Court decision in May 2008 that struck down California marriage laws and legalized same-sex marriage.

The California High Court will hear oral arguments on three lawsuits challenging the measure on Thursday.

Dozens of groups have filed briefs in support of the measure, most arguing that the amendment was not a drastic revision to the state Constitution but rather a reaffirmation of traditional marriage.

Opponents of the resolution say the vote was a waste of time since it does carry any bearing on the legal challenges on the issue.

"As a non-binding resolution with no force of law, HR5 does nothing except further politicize this process a few days before the court hearing," said Republican lawmaker Van Tran of Garden Grove, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Andrew Pugno, an attorney for the Yes on 8 campaign, said the court will focus solely on the arguments before it.

"This is simply a political drill, but the court knows that this is not a popularity contest," Pugno told the Associated Press. "All that matters is the law."

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 5 from 9 a.m. to noon and rule within 90 days.

The Court will decide on the validity of Proposition 8, whether the measure was improperly enacted and if it takes away a fundamental right from a minority group.

If Supreme Court Justices uphold Proposition 8, they must decide whether the measure would retroactively nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the state.

Both sides of the issue are expected to hold rallies outside the courthouse before and during the hearing.