2.7.2012-San Francisco, CA: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today issued a historic decision affirming the August 2010 decision of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco striking down the controversial ballot initiative known as Prop 8, which in 2008 stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. Writing for the majority in Perry v. Brown, Judge Stephen Reinhardt declared that "Proposition 8 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 Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort."
The Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), as the nation's oldest and largest bar association of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) persons working in the field of law, applauds the Ninth Circuit's ruling and congratulates and thanks the many dedicated lawyers and legal professionals whose critical work over the past several years championing the cause of marriage equality in the courtrooms of California has helped lead to this decision. BALIF itself coordinated the submission of two amicus briefs in this case as it was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, both of which were joined by dozens of other minority bar associations located throughout California and various other national and local non-profit organizations. One set of amici were represented by Perkins Coie LLP attorneys Joren Bass, Allison Zamani, and BALIF Co-Chair David Tsai, and the other set was represented by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP attorneys Jerome Rother, Michelle Friedland, Mark Conrad, and Miriam Seifter. We are very grateful for the hard work of these extremely dedicated and capable attorneys to assure that the voice of BALIF and its sister minority groups was heard in this fight. Their impressive briefs can be found here and here.
Today, BALIF also acknowledges and congratulates the work of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), who in association with the law firms of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP mounted and has sustained this particular case in the federal courts. As the Ninth Circuit's decision is the first time a federal appeals court has invalidated discrimination against same-sex couples with respect to the fundamental right to marry, today's decision marks a monumental step forward for LGBT rights. BALIF Co-Chair Chelsea HaleyNelson summarized the historic nature of the decision as follows: "The Ninth Circuit's ruling finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional affirms the ideals of equality, dignity and fairness, not only for same-sex couples, but for all of us. This is a wonderful victory that I'm proud to be able to witness."
Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members' interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers. For more information on BALIF, please visit our website or Facebook page.