Plaintiffs Ask Supreme Court Not to Hear Prop. 8, Restore California Marriage Equality

The legal journey of Proposition 8 may be coming to a close, depending on if the case is accepted by the nation's highest court.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

August 24 2012 6:54 PM ET

Same-sex couples and plaintiffs (from left) Sandy Stier, Kris Perry, Paul Katami, and Jeffrey Zarrillo look on at a news conference following a hearing at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 6, 2010, in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 

Lawyers for the gay and lesbian plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown and Perry v. Schwarzenegger), the federal case challenging the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, today filed a brief asking the nation's highest court not to hear the case. If the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the case, lower court rulings that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional will stand and marriage equality will be restored in California, possibly by the end of this year.

"The Ninth Circuit found that eliminating the ability of gay and lesbian couples to have their relationships designated as marriages — and relegating them to separate and unequal domestic partnerships — achieves nothing except the marginalization of gay and lesbian individuals and their relationships, and therefore cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny," plaintiffs' attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies wrote in today's brief.

Last month, proponents of the 2008 ballot initiative filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to reverse the rulings by the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District Court. In both earlier hearings, the courts found that Prop. 8 was based in animus against gays and lesbians, and was therefore unconstitutional.

In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Prop. 8 violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Today's brief cites that ruling, saying it "reflects a correct and straightforward application of settled Supreme Court precedent."

It is unclear when the Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will hear the case. Speculation abounds regarding the scope of a potential decision, which could be limited to California or theoretically invalidate same-sex marriage bans across the country. The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the legal challenge, has more in-depth information on the case, including a timeline charting the case's progress thus far. 

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