Law School Case Brief
Perry v. Schwarzenegger - 704 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Cal. 2010)
Proposition 8, Cal. Const. art. I, § 7.5, does not affect any First Amendment right or responsibility of parents to educate their children. Californians are prevented from distinguishing between same-sex partners and opposite-sex spouses in public accommodations, as California antidiscrimination law requires identical treatment for same-sex unions and opposite-sex marriages.
Plaintiffs challenge a November 2008 voter-enacted amendment to the California Constitution (Proposition 8). Cal Const Art I, § 7.5. In its entirety, Proposition 8 provides: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Plaintiffs allege that Proposition 8 deprives them of due process and of equal protection of the laws contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment and that its enforcement by state officials violates 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs seek to marry their partners and have been denied marriage licenses by their respective county authorities on the basis of Proposition 8. No party contended, and no evidence at trial suggested, that the county authorities had any ground to deny marriage licenses to plaintiffs other than Proposition 8.
Was Proposition No. 8 unconstitutional?
Under Fed. R. Evid. 702, the expert testimony proffered by the proponents was inadmissible and given no weight as the expert did not explain the methodology that led to his opinions on the definition of marriage other than a review of others' work. A conclusion that married biological parents provided a better family form than married non-biological parents was not supported by the evidence on which he relied. Finally, his opinion that recognizing same-sex marriage led to the deinstitutionalization of marriage was tautological and unsupported by the evidence. The couples sought to exercise the fundamental right to marry, as opposed to establishing a new right, where they sought the right to choose a spouse and join together to form a household. Domestic partnerships did not satisfy the obligation to allow the couples to marry as the partnerships, inter alia, existed solely to differentiate same-sex unions from marriage. Proposition 8 violated due process as it denied the couples a fundamental right without any legitimate government reason. It also violated the Equal Protection Clause as excluding same-sex couples from marriage was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest. Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The court ordered entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement, prohibiting the state officials from applying or enforcing Proposition 8, and directing the state officials that all persons under their control or supervision should not apply or enforce Proposition 8.
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