California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday filed the state's amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Proposition 8 and give gay couples the "respect and dignity to which they are entitled."
In a 45-page brief, Harris declared that the same-sex marriage ban imposed by Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment's equal-protection and due-process guarantees. The ballot measure's "sole yet profound effect," Harris asserted, "was to take away the right of gay and lesbian couples to call their union a 'marriage' and to strip loving relationships of validation and dignity under law."
Harris further argued that the conservatives seeking to uphold Proposition 8 lacked the legal standing to sue. This is the boring but potentially important argument the court will consider first when justices hear oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case on March 26.
State officials declined to defend Proposition 8, which was struck down by a trial judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That left the defense in the hands of the ballot measure's private supporters.
According to Harris, because these private individuals have no authority to enforce the law, they cannot claim the kind of injury required to establish legal standing to sue.
Harris argues the 9th Circuit incorrectly granted the opponents' standing, following a state Supreme Court determination. Once the appellate court reached the merits of the case, though, Harris said the 9th Circuit reached essentially the right conclusion.
"That court correctly ruled that Proposition 8 is unrelated to any legitimate state interest and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause," Harris wrote.
The Obama administration could file its own brief today.