Thursday, July 16, 2009

DOMA-ME-ME - By Mark R. Kerr

When the American Foundation for Equal Rights and former Bush v. Gore attorneys, former Solicitor General Ted Olson and David Boies, had teamed up to file suit (May 22) in federal court, the Ninth U.S. Circuit, located in San Francisco, California, challenging California’s Proposition 8, on the grounds that it violates the federal Constitution, specifically the Fourteenth Amendment and the equal protection clause when the California Supreme Court, in its ruling, said Gay and Lesbians could be treated “separate but equal” under the law, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights groups reacted with disdain.

This “premature” legal challenge, in a statement, on May 27 by the ACLU, GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Defenders), Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Freedom to marry, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay Lesbian Task Force “may well not win the right to marry back in California.” and that a legal defeat “would likely set back the fight for marriage nationwide, and hurt LGBT parents, employees, and students all over America,” but now more than a month later, these groups have filed a legal brief asking to be a part of this legal challenge.

Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's national marriage director, said in an interview that their full participation is vital now that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has put the Proposition 8 challenge on a fast-track to trial. "We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity," Pizer said.

Chad Griffin, the Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, called the legal maneuvering, “too late” since the same groups originally criticized a federal civil rights claim as premature.
"You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening," Griffin said in a letter to the groups. "Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene."

More lawyers, Griffin continued would “delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceedings” but the public interest groups were welcome to continue participating as consultants, something the groups should do since they were initially loath to join this legal challenge, something they now see as a possibility but “if you snooze, you lose!”

Protecting and advancing equal rights through legal and policy advocacy, for all Americans is the reason, according to their website ( why the American Foundation for Equal Rights was formed. For more information about this case, the American Foundation or to support their efforts, go to their website.

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