California superior court judge James L. Warren on Thursday denied the request of the antigay Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund to participate as a party in Woo v. Lockyer, the lawsuit brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six same-sex couples, Equality California, and Our Families Coalition. The lawsuit argues that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the California constitution's guarantees of equality, liberty, and privacy. Ruling from the bench after extensive oral argument by both sides, the judge held that the Proposition 22 Fund did not meet the legal standard for intervention, which requires showing that the proposed intervenor may be harmed directly by the outcome of the case. Warren found that the Proposition 22 Fund had not shown any way in which its members would be harmed by a ruling that same-sex couples can marry in California. "We are very pleased by the court's ruling," said Shannon Minter, legal director for NCLR. "This case is about real families who are harmed by being denied the right to marry. The couples who brought this lawsuit are entitled to their day in court without undue interference by an outside group with no direct interest in the case. The court correctly found that merely having a political interest in an issue does not meet the legal standard for intervention."
On April 1 the lawsuit was consolidated with a similar one filed by San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera on behalf of the city and county of San Francisco. The city's lawsuit also argues that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the California constitution. Thursday's ruling applies to the city's lawsuit as well.