by David Cohen - Publisher

Today is a special day for the LGBT community in the USA. In a monumental decision today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. I would like to share with you the readers,  few of the emails I received  today from some of the leaders in our community.

From: Bernard Cherkasov, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois
The inexorable march to full marriage equality achieved a significant milestone with the historic ruling that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. The court’s gratifying decision makes a clear statement that marriage equality is a fundamental freedom. This victory, if upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, will restore full marriage equality in California, the nation’s largest state, and add to the pressure in Illinois and elsewhere in the country to end marriage discrimination. In addition to the dignity and respect marriage equality grants loving and committed couples, it ensures security and critical safety net protections for all married couples and their families.  

While we support the implementation of civil unions in Illinois in 2011, it still falls short of achieving full marriage equality on the state level and does little to guarantee the federal rights and privileges that marriage provides opposite-sex couples. With this ruling, political leaders who support full equality will have important arguments to share with state legislators who will inevitably be asked to vote on full marriage rights in the future.  

Lawmakers need not wait for the ultimate disposition of the California case and other legal rulings to do the right thing in Springfield and Washington, D.C. to end marriage discrimination. We will continue to fight for equality on every level and could not do it without YOU. Thank you!

From: NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the August 2010 decision of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco striking down Proposition 8, the 2008 measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. The Court affirmed the ruling of former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker that Prop 8 discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court also rejected Prop 8 supporters’ offensive argument that Judge Walker should have refused to preside over the case because he is gay and in a relationship with a man.

The court ruled that Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution because it "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

The supporters of Prop 8 have 15 days to ask the Ninth Circuit panel to reconsider its decision or to ask for reconsideration by a larger panel of judges on that court. Alternatively, they have 90 days to request that the Supreme Court of the United States review the case.

NCLR, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Northern California, and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders filed an amicus brief urging the court to affirm Judge Walker’s decision.

From: Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy.
Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit declaring that California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution is good for marriage, it is good for religion and it is good for the people of California.  How the government defines marriage must be rooted in the Constitution – as is this decision.  Doing so in no way inhibits the right of a church or other house of worship to base its definition on religious doctrine. 

To the religious institutions that would attempt to redefine the inherent concept of religious freedom by arguing that today’s ruling somehow diminishes religious freedom, Interfaith Alliance holds that in fact, the ruling makes very clear that legalizing same sex marriage has no impact whatsoever on religious freedom.  A church that opposes same sex marriage is under no more legal pressure to perform such unions now than it was before the ruling.  In fact, no religion would ever be required to condone same-gender marriage, and no member of the clergy would ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony not in accordance with his or her religious beliefs.  While I hope that those who oppose same sex marriage will eventually change their position, they are under no legal requirement to do so, but neither should they stand in the way of those of us who embrace marriage equality.

While we are sure that supporters of Proposition 8 will appeal the ruling, we hope today’s decision will be upheld, enshrining marriage equality for same-sex couples in the State of California – and paving the way for the rest of the country to follow its lead.

From: Joe Solmonese, President Human Rights Campaign.
This monumental decision affirms what we all know to be true – our Constitution exists to protect the basic civil rights of all Americans – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Prop. 8 does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage. Instead, it singles out thousands of loving California families for different treatment, simply because they are gay and lesbian couples. The Ninth Circuit ruled on the right side of history by recognizing that our Constitution cannot tolerate such egregious discrimination.

Their move upholds a lower court's decision that anti-gay bigotry was behind Prop. 8, the hateful law that denied gay and lesbian Californians the freedom to marry.

Here's what the Court said in its decision: Prop. 8 "served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

The path ahead may still be long, but this case has helped propel the fight for marriage equality forward. And as the struggle continues in courtrooms and statehouses, we'll all know the power behind it is driven by devoted supporters like you. The fight goes on, and I can't thank you enough for being a part of this extraordinary movement.