May 28th, 2009
10:30 AM ET

A combat veteran fighting for love

Editor’s Note: Today the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that would challenge the U.S. military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving. The appeal came from the plaintiff in Pietrangelo v. Gates, James E. Pietrangelo II, who was discharged from the military for exposing his sexual orientation. A combat veteran and Arabic translator who served in Iraq, Lt. Daniel Choi is also gay and after announcing so on national television, he, too, will be officially discharged from the army tomorrow, June 9. Since his public annoucement, Choi has become oustpoken opponent of the policy. He writes here about the California Supreme Court's most recent ruling on gay marriage and will speak with Anderson about the controversial policy tonight on AC 360º at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.dan.choi.cnn.jpg caption="Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi has joined the fight against the military's controversial policy regarding sexual orientation."]

Lt. Daniel Choi
Former U.S. Army combat soldier and Arabic translator

The recent ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding the referendum that stripped away the right of same-sex couples to marry was a wake-up call to me and so many others who thought entitlements and rights would be granted without a struggle. As I fight to keep my own job in the Army and essentially, the jobs of thousands of other gay American soldiers who want to serve their country, I am reminded of what it means to be American. Being American does not mean waiting for others to grant us freedom. Americans don’t hide from doing the right thing. Americans believe in responsibilities. Americans take courage. Americans stand up.

I am a native Californian but I had never marched in a protest, never spoke at a rally. I never felt motivated or compelled. After hearing about the court’s 6-1 ruling, I spoke at the Asian-Pacific Islander and Latino Rally in East LA, then a press conference for the Courage Campaign, then a rally in West Hollywood, then marched with thousands through the streets of LA. We rallied for love, We spoke for love, We marched for love. I wore my boots that survived a tour in Iraq and knew that if they were good enough for war, they were good enough for love. There are many things worth fighting for, but as a soldier, I know that LOVE is worth fighting for.


May 27th, 2009
06:26 PM ET

Interactive: Same-sex marriage chronology

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the the reaction to the California Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8 tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.calif.protest.cnn.jpg caption="Protesters gather outside the California Supreme Court in San Francisco on Tuesday. "]

The Los Angeles Times

For the last decade, the battle over same-sex marriage and other rights for gay couples has been hard fought in U.S. courts and legislatures and at the ballot box. Use this map to view milestones in the fight and how state laws have changed since 2000.

Check out this interactive to see a time line of the same-sex debate.

May 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Bush v. Gore lawyers launch new same-sex marriage appeal


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/27/same.sex.marriage.court/art.gayrally.cnn.jpg caption="A crowd protests the court ruling upholding Proposition 8 in Los Angeles, California, Tuesday."]
Opponents of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages launched a new court challenge Wednesday, led by lawyers who were on opposite sides of the case that settled the 2000 presidential race.

Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies have asked a federal judge to block California from enforcing the ban, known as Proposition 8.

"We are two lawyers from opposite ends of the political spectrum who have come together to support one of the most important issues of our time," Olson told reporters. The case "is not about liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We're here in part to symbolize that," he added. Wednesday's lawsuit was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples who have been denied marriage licenses under Proposition 8. A federal judge in San Francisco has set a July 2 hearing on the matter.

"Our Constitution guarantees every American the right to be treated equally under the law," Boies said. "There is no right more fundamental than the right to marry the person you love and to raise a family."

Olson was the lead attorney for George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. Boies, meanwhile, was the top legal strategist for former Vice President Al Gore, that year's Democratic presidential nominee.

California's Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the marriage ban Tuesday, but left intact about 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted before voters approved the ban in November. The court rejected arguments that the measure improperly amended the state constitution.


Filed under: Proposition 8 • Raw Politics
May 27th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

Ted and Dave’s excellent Prop 8 adventure

Ashby Jones
The Wall Street Journal Blog

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.prop8.cnn.jpg caption="Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, faced a constitutionality test but was upheld."]

Tuesday was a bad day for opponents of Proposition 8 for an obvious reason: the California Supreme Court upheld the ballot initiative, passed last November by California voters and which bans same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

But once these same opponents finish reading the court’s 136-page decision and digesting what the justices had to say about revisions to the state constitution, they perhaps had even more reason to feel chagrined.

This LA Times article lays out the issue well.

At issue in the case was whether Proposition 8 was properly defined as a constitutional revision or a constitutional amendment. The former requires an act of the legislature; the latter can be effected by a popular vote. In describing Proposition 8’s “limited effect,” the majority said that simply reserving the term “marriage” for opposite-sex couples “does not have a substantial, or, indeed, even a minimal effect on the governmental plan or framework of California that existed prior to the amendment.” [emphasis in original]. In other words, in order for a constitutional change to be deemed a revision — and therefore require legislative action — the change need alter the “governmental plan or framework of California.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Proposition 8
May 27th, 2009
03:12 PM ET

The big gay chip on my shoulder

Rob Thomas
The Huffington Post

I am a straight man, with a big gay chip on my shoulder.

A while back on my Twitter page (yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds), I mentioned that, if I believed in the devil, Pat Robertson might be him.

Being a fairly liberal-leaning guy with either liberal friends or Republican and Christian friends who don't believe that being one has anything to do with the other, I was surprised at how many people took offense to what I had to say.

These people weren't friends of Mr. Robertson but friends, apparently, of God. They had "spoken" with him and he had assured them that he was no friend of the gays. He also told them that he loved America more than any other country and was a huge fan of Dancing With the Stars.

The small controversy or "Twitter-versy" (patent on phrase pending) all started when I had made the mistake of asking why two people of the same sex shouldn't be able to make the same life-long commitment and (more importantly) under the same god, as straight people. Why can't my gay friends be as happily married as my wife and I? It seemed simple to me, but let me start off by telling you a series of things that I believe to be true:


May 27th, 2009
07:52 AM ET

Video: Same sex marriage battle

Guest host John King and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom discuss the same sex marriage ban in California.

Filed under: 360° Radar • John King • Proposition 8
May 26th, 2009
05:30 PM ET

In California, justice and 'marriage' prevail

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.prop8.cnn.jpg caption="Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, faced a constitutionality test but was upheld."]

Tony Perkins
AC360° Contributor
President, Family Research Council

At every opportunity, the people of California have voted to protect marriage. Nine years, two ballot initiatives, and two lawsuits later, the state's Supreme Court finally respected that decision, upholding Proposition 8's ban on counterfeit marriage in a 6-1 ruling.

A year after imposing same-sex 'marriage' on the state, the same court that initiated the controversy surrendered to the more than seven million voters who, on November 4, upheld the historical definition of marriage as the union of a man and woman.

In FRC's amicus brief, we argued that the effort to overturn Proposition 8 "strikes directly at the heart of California's system of government."

The court acknowledged its limitations in today's opinion, stating, "Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question."


May 26th, 2009
02:36 PM ET

The Prop 8 decision – and dissent

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the ruling on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/04/samesex.marriage.poll/art.samesex.marriage.gi.jpg caption="A recent poll shows that those who have a gay friend or relative are more likely to support gay marriage."]

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The California Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling was 135 pages, but its key rationale that Prop 8 was a "permissible" amendment to California's constitution was summed up in a few lines.

The dissent, summed up in two paragraphs, joined same-sex marriage proponents in arguing that Prop 8 violates the "equal protection" clause of the California constitution and federal civil rights law.

Many believe that the ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, or that there will be another voter referendum on it.

Here are key quotes from the ruling - and the dissent.

From the ruling by Chief Justice George:

In summary, we conclude that Proposition 8 constitutes a permissible constitutional amendment (rather than an impermissible constitutional revision), does not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and is not invalid under the “inalienable rights” theory proffered by the Attorney General. We further conclude that Proposition 8 does not apply retroactively and therefore that the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Proposition 8 remain valid.

Having determined that none of the constitutional challenges to the adoption of Proposition 8 have merit, we observe that if there is to be a change to the state constitutional rule embodied in that measure, it must “find its expression at the ballot box.”

From the dissent by Justice Moreno:

Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

This could not have been the intent of those who devised and enacted the initiative process. In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Barclay Palmer • Proposition 8
May 26th, 2009
01:49 PM ET

California high court upholds same-sex marriage ban

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.prop8.gi.jpg]


California's Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a ban on same-sex marriages that state voters passed in November, but it allowed about 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before the ban to remain valid.

The ruling was met with chants of "shame on you" from a crowd of about 1,000 people who gathered outside the court building in San Francisco.

The court made the ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Opponents wanted the amendment nullified. They said the proposition alters California's Constitution and, therefore, under state law, was a revision that requires a constitutional convention.

Attorneys for the opponents also said the proposition, which removed the "marriage" label from same-sex unions, effectively deprived same-sex couples of a fundamental right guaranteed them under the equal-protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Justices asked many questions when they heard arguments in the case in March but didn't indicate which way they leaned, instead focusing on winnowing out each attorney's individual argument on the issue.

Keep Reading...

May 25th, 2009
08:04 PM ET

Decision day in California

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/05/california.same.sex/art.prop8.for.cnn.jpg]
Joneil Adriano
AC360° Producer

On Tuesday, the eyes of the nation will be watching California, during what is being billed as the "Day of Decision" by marriage equality activists all across the land. Why? Because the California Supreme Court is expected to issue its highly anticipated ruling on whether or not Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage, should be upheld or invalidated.

After the oral arguments in March, many court watchers predicted that the Supreme Court would respect the will of the voters and allow Prop. 8 to stand. If that is indeed the case, those who support same-sex marriage will hold protests across the country. If the justices surprise everyone by overturning it, those protests will become celebrations.

For those on both sides of the issue, the stakes are high. For one thing, there are an estimated 20,000 gay couples who are, for now, legally married in the state. Will the court allow those marriages to continue, or will they be forcibly annulled?


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