San Francisco News

Same-sex marriage rally held in SF

Wednesday, March 04, 2009
 Same-Sex Rally Protest March

One-thousand people marched to San Francisco's City Hall to rally against Proposition 8. On Thursday, both sides will tell the California Supreme Court justices why they think Prop 8 should either be upheld or overturned.

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Many of the same-sex marriage supporters who marched from the Castro District to the Supreme Court Wednesday night plan to be there again on Thursday.

Dozens of people spent the night at Civic Center Plaza, not wanting to miss anything once court begins, just across the street, on Thursday.

"Stop the hate, overturn Prop 8," the crowd of protesters chanted.

Anger filled several blocks of Market Street on Wednesday night because since November, with the passage of Prop 8 -- which bans same-sex marriage -- those in San Francisco have felt far from equal.

"It's one of the most important civil rights cases in American history now," said Robin Tyler, a lawsuit petitioner.

Tyler is outraged by the passage of Prop 8. Her attorney will challenge the constitutionality of it before the state Supreme Court Thursday. Tyler wants the court to overturn the decision made by voters.

"This is about saving the California Constitution because if 50-percent of the people, plus one, are allowed to over throw the ruling of a supreme court, it doesn't give anybody protection," said Tyler.

"This is not about same-sex marriage tomorrow. It's about the rights of the voters to change the Constitution," said Bill May, Yes On Prop 8.

May, with 'Yes on Prop 8' believes it is the right of the people to create change, but attorneys opposing the proposition disagree. They claim voters should never have been allowed to vote on such a thing, in the first place.

"You cannot put a basic human right up for a majority rule, it's illegal, it's unconstitutional," said R.J. Molligan, with the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association.

"It is very difficult to make a case that a 14-word-amendment changes the foundational structure of California government," said May.

While attorneys for both sides spend the night preparing for the day's oral arguments, protesters prepare for what's to come.

In less than 90 days when the judges return with a ruling they'll know if their fight is over, or if it'll be taken to a new level.

The plaza will be packed tomorrow from 9 a.m. until noon Thursday. A jumbo-tron will be set up for people to come and watch the proceedings taking place inside the court room.

Hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters gathered early Wednesday night in Harvey Milk Plaza. They were calling the demonstration the "Eve of Justice."

There was also a vigil planned for San Jose on Wednesday night as well. About two dozen cities around the state also planned to hold vigils as the California Supreme Court prepares to once again take up the issue of same-sex marriage.

Last May the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in California, but the celebration by gay rights supporters turned out to have been premature.

Opponents mounted a drive to put the issue before the voters and after a bruising and expensive campaign on both sides, Proposition 8 passed in November, banned same-sex marriage, but not before 18,000 same-sex couples were allowed to marry.

The justices will examine three issues. The first is if Prop 8 an amendment to the Constitution or a revision. A revision would have to be passed by state lawmakers, not the voters as Prop 8 was. The second issue is questioning if Prop 8 takes away the rights of minority group that the Supreme Court has a constitutional role to protect. The third issue is if Prop 8 is upheld, does it invalidate the same-sex marriages performed before the voter-approved ban.

Randy Thomasson, a Prop 8 supporter, has filed a brief in the case.

"The court merely needs to look at the Constitution, which says clearly that marriage is only for a man and a woman. And says the legislature makes the laws, people pass initiatives. Only the people can amend the Constitution and judges have to go with the Constitution," said Thomasson.

That's the opposite take of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. His office will argue against Prop 8.

"If Prop 8 is allowed to stand, we will take away what has been a tradition in this republic for centuries and that is in an independent, non-political judiciary having the ability to be the interpreter of what is constitutional and what is not," said Herrera.

ABC7's legal analyst Dean Johnson says the state justices should look to one case the U.S. Supreme Court struck down regarding a Texas sodomy law.

"The mere fact that the majority of a society has found a practice immoral or undesirable is not a reason for upholding an unconstitutional law that prohibits that practice," said Johnson.

Johnson quoted a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas.

Thursday's case puts the national spotlight back on California and the justices will have 90 days after this hearing to issue a ruling.

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