[JURIST] The Obama administration urged [brief, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] Thursday to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry [docket; cert. petition, PDF]. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, arguing that California’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8 [text, PDF, JURIST news archive], violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court will determine whether amending California’s constitution to limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The government’s brief argues that by extending substantive rights to same-sex couples through domestic partnerships, the justification for Proposition 8 is undermined. The brief states:
That California law authorizes domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples and expressly grants them the incidents of marriage–a fact about California’s legal regime that could be taught just like any other fact relevant to a class–makes this interest all the more tenuous as a purported justification for Proposition 8. California’s extension of all of the substantive rights and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbian domestic partners particularly undermines the justifications for Proposition 8. It indicates that Proposition 8’s withholding of the designation of marriage is not based on an interest in promoting responsible procreation and child-rearing–petitioners’ central claimed justification for the initiative–but instead on impermissible prejudice.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to begin oral arguments for the Hollingsworth case on March 26.
Last week, advocates for same-sex marriage submitted briefs [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court in the Hollingsworth case for the respondent couples, as well as for the City and County of San Fransisco [briefs, PDF]. The advocates urged the court to find California’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, claiming that the law served only to “stigmatize gay men and lesbians.” The ban, Proposition 8, was a voter-approved state measure to limit the meaning of marriage to include only a man and a woman. In 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional [JURIST report], as it “stripped same-sex couples of…an important right.” In addition to this case, the court is also scheduled to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] this month.