Dennis Hollingsworth v. Kristin Perry
(defending California’s Proposition 8 constitutional definition of marriage)

admin Family and Life

This case involves a challenge to California Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment which defined “marriage” as between one man and one woman and was approved by a majority of voters in California. California’s government (led first by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then by Governor Jerry Brown) refused to defend the amendment enacted directly by the people of California, and so the proponents of the amendment stepped in to defend it.

In federal district court, the case was decided by a closeted homosexual judge named Vaughn Walker, who was in a “long-term committed relationship” with a man and who would have been in the class of persons affected by his own decision. Judge Walker believed all social science witnesses against traditional marriage, and disregarded all witnesses against traditional marriage. When the obvious conflict of interest was raised, it was ruled as insufficient to justify a challenge to the outcome.

In the Ninth Circuit, Judge Walker’s decision was upheld in a 2-1 decision written by Judge Reinhardt, whose wife was an ACLU official who help plan the same-sex marriage litigation.

The reason that the lawyer defending Proposition 8 failed to mount a strong defense for traditional marriage was explained in an article by Robert J. Reilly.

In the U.S. Supreme Court, CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief argued that the Tenth Amendment leaves it up to California to determine who can defend the amendment, and that it is not up to the Supreme Court. Moreover, the brief argued that the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause prohibits only legislation that treats different races of people as less than human, while California’s constitutional amendment does not deny homosexuals their humanity.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the district court’s decision striking down Proposition 8 on the theory that its defenders did not have standing to challenge that decision.

CLDEF Amicus Curiae Brief (January 29, 2013)

SCOTUSblog Case Page

Oral Argument (March 26, 2013) transcript

U.S. Supreme Court Opinion