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Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Lopez

This week the Orange County Equality Coalition, OCEC, held their first legal forum of the year, which featured constitutional law scholar and UCI Law School Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky. Dean Chemerinsky explained the legal journey of Proposition 8, California’s famed ballot initiative, from the time most of us stopped paying attention through now. There were 3, major, take away messages:




  1. Now is as good a time as any to take the marriage equality battle to federal court.
  2. When the question of whether or not the government can continue to discriminate against the marriages and families of LGBT people gets to the US Supreme Court, the answer will most likely be in the hands of one man: Justice Anthony Kennedy.
  3. If Prop 8 is overturned in the US District Court, where Judge Vaughn Walker is scheduled to release his decision this month, MARRIAGE EQUALITY COULD RETURN TO CALIFORNIA!!!

That’s right, my lovelies, as soon as next month, we could be getting LEGALLY married in California once again. Here’s how: Prop 8 is being challenged in the first level of federal court (US District). Evidence has been presented by both sides. Closing arguments will probably take place sometime this month. After that, Judge Walker will issue a ruling on whether Prop 8 violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. If Prop 8 is overturned, marriage equality could be restored in California.

Of course, the pro-discrimination lawyers will likely appeal Prop 8’s overturning, and they may request that our marriages remain ignored until the issue is decided on appeal. But, get this, if the district court and the appellate court refuse to block marriage equality, then the haters can go to a representative of the US Supreme Court. Who, you ask, is the SCOTUS Justice that oversees the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals??? Well, it’s Anthony Kennedy.

Dean Chemerinsky also gave detailed projections on how the SCOTUS Justices would split on this issue and offered enlightened commentary on Anthony Kennedy’s record. Chemerinsky is simply amazing, and if you missed this legal forum, you really missed out. BUT, rumor has it their may be a video of the event online shortly. I will keep you posted.

OCEC’s next legal forum will focus on tax related issues for the LGBT community and will be held at Chapman University School of Law at the end of March.

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The deadline for briefs to be filed with the California Supreme Court in the case to overturn Proposition 8 has come and gone. The court has accepted several amicus, or “Friend of the Court,” briefs, including one filed by several members of the state’s ultra-conservative, Orange County.

Ever since the controversial ballot measure stripped rights from a minority group in California, Orange County residents have been forming grass roots coalitions that support equal rights for all. Upstart, Orange County Equality Coalition (OCEC), has hundreds of new members organizing around community education, faith based coalition building, political campaigning, and legal advocacy. OCEC’s legal committee teamed up with Chapman University Law School’s LGBT group, Outlaw, to spearhead the drafting of an amicus brief supporting the petitioner’s request that the court overturn Proposition 8.

This filing is momentous not just for conservative Orange County, but also in response to an earlier filing sponsored by the head of Chapman’s law school, John Eastman, in support of Proposition 8. TheGreatestofThese wrote about Eastman’s filing in a previous post and blogged about the Dean’s financial support for Proposition 8 here.

In spite of this, Chapman lawyers, faculty, staff, and students joined OCEC and other community organizations, as well as several community members, such as UC Irvine law school Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, in this filing. All in all, the brief includes over 70 named Amici, representing more than 500 people. Of themselves, they say this:

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The five main arguments put forth in the brief are as follows:

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Those who penned the brief are far smarter than I, so I will let the document speak for itself. Let me just point out that the DOMA section (#4) directly tackles an argument put forth in Eastman’s brief; the first few arguments (#1 & 2) deal handily with the perversion of history set forth in the anti-equality filings; and the Constitutional Oath argument (#5) presents a completely new angle from which to view Prop 8. It reads, in part:

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amicusarticle_4It goes on to say:

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Amen.

The entire brief has been attached to this website as a PDF. You can also read the declarations PDF here—these are the personal stories of some of the people (amici) who signed onto this filing.

Good to know there’s still some LOVE in the OC.

UPDATE: The entire brief has been posted on the California Supreme Court’s Prop 8 Filings page. Scroll down to “Individual Chapman University Organizations et al., in Support of Petitioners” to read the brief. The declarations are below the next heading and named “Appendix in Support of Amicus Curaie Brief of Individual Chapman University Organizations et al.,.”