When San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris won a squeaker of a race to become California's attorney general in 2010, it was a major win for LGBT people in the state. The mixed-race Harris has long been a supporter of LGBT rights and built her campaign on the promise to not defend Proposition 8 in a federal court challenge.
On Tuesday, the day the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a second blow to the antigay ballot initiative, Harris weighed in on what's next for marriage equality in the country's most populous state. With the court denying to review the case again, if the Supreme Court doesn't take up an appeal promised by Prop. 8 proponents then can Californians just start getting married?
Harris also talked about being honored with the George Moscone Ally Award at Los Angeles Gay Pride this weekend. If you're in West Hollywood, keep an eye out for her in Sunday's parade, looking like her usual polished self.
The Advocate: Are you surprised the marriage equality opponents’s en banc appeal was denied?
Kamala Harris: No. What’s most important, and what I would love to see, is the highest court in the land ultimately make a decision, and the right decision. That would be to find that Prop. 8 is a violation of equal protection under the Constitution, and to stop denying LGBT people the right to marry. We’ll see if that happens in the year of our Lord, 2012.
Is it really that wise for marriage equality opponents to petition the nation's highest court?
By going to the Supreme Court, they are also taking a risk, which is the highest court of the land making a decision that impacts the entire country. They’re really taking a risk by letting it leave California.
When will the stay on marriages in California finally end?
The stay will last at least the next 90 days. The U.S. Supreme Court has to decide if they take the case. If they take it, the stay will continue. If they decide to not take the case, it will be for us in California to see if the Ninth Circuit lets the stay end.
Wait, so marriages wouldn’t automatically be legal?
No, [Harris or her representatives in the attorney general’s office] would have to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, tell them the last court decision declared Prop. 8 unconstitutional, and ask to lift the stay.