LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he will submit a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to make same-sex marriage legal across the nation.
“Los Angeles must be on the front lines of this epic fight,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in April on four cases from the Sixth Circuit, with a decision expected by June.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in California. The nation’s highest court will decide whether the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires states to permit same-sex marriages, and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where it is already legal.
Feuer said he is filing the brief because he believes the ability “to marry whom you love is a fundamental civil right.”
Councilman Mike Bonin, the first openly gay member of the Los Angeles City Council to get married while in office, said the anticipated ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is an opportunity “to finally move our nation past the divisive and discriminatory question about whether my marriage is any different than any other.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said he supports Feuer’s plan to file a brief to the nation’s high court “regarding this transcendent issue.”
“It is one of the great civil rights and human rights causes of our time, with people increasingly realizing and rejoicing that there is no turning
back on the right to marry,” he said.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will make the right for same-sex people to wed “available in every state across the land” and rule “on the right side of history.”
The cases being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court involve four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — where same-sex marriages are banned. Those states are among the 14 remaining in the country that do not allow same-sex unions.
In March 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 but also ruled that the unions of the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 prior to its passage would remain valid.
Same-sex marriage supporters took their case to federal court, and U.S District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that Prop. 8 “both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Backers of Prop. 8 — ProtectMarriage.com — appealed to the 9th Circuit, because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to do so. The appellate court heard arguments in 2011 but put a decision on hold while awaiting a state Supreme Court ruling on the ability of Prop. 8 backers to press the case forward despite the state’s refusal to appeal.
The state Supreme Court decided that Prop. 8 supporters had legal standing, so the 9th Circuit moved ahead with its consideration of the case, hearing more arguments on a motion by Prop. 8 backers asking that Walker’s ruling be thrown out because the judge was in a long-term same-sex relationship that he had not disclosed.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that the proposition’s primary impact was to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”
“It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain and use the designation of `marriage’ to describe their relationships,” according to the court’s decision.
That ruling led to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that Prop. 8 backers lacked legal standing to challenge the 9th Circuit’s ruling, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California.