Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 3, 2013
California prisons to allow inmates to marry same-sex partners

ammianopride.JPGCalifornia inmates are eligible to marry non-incarcerated partners of the same sex, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation memo addressing questions arising from a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Proposition 8.

Inmates will not, however, be permitted "at this time" to marry another inmate, in part due to "safety concerns," according to the memo.

The office of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, distributed the memo below. Ammiano's office said in a media release that some prisons had interpreted the law in a way that barred inmates from marrying same-sex partners, prompting a legislative inquiry and the ensuing memo.

"Inmates have the same legal right to marry as those who are not inmates," said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the state corrections department. "The memo clarifies the policy we already had."

Here is the memo:

June 28, 2013
Prop. 8 backers slam 'outrageous' decision to lift stay

RA_AD5_ANDY_ANDREW_PUGNO.JPGA federal appeals court continued a "chronic pattern of lawlessness" by lifting a stay on a lower court decision striking down a voter-approved prohibition of same-sex marriage, supporters of the ban said Friday.

Same-sex marriage proponents celebrated on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court tossed a challenge to U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 ruling invalidating Proposition 8, a ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage in California. Proposition 8 proponents reacted to the ruling differently -- in a statement,'s general counsel Andy Pugno vowed to continue seeking enforcement of the law.

That's less of an option now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has lifted its stay.

"This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption," Pugno said in a statement.

"Homosexual marriage is not happening because the people changed their mind. It isn't happening because the appellate courts declared a new constitutional right. It's happening because enemies of the people have abused their power to manipulate the system and render the people voiceless."

"The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonorable fashion, they should be ashamed."

PHOTO: Andy Pugno, in 2012. Photo by Randy Allen

June 28, 2013
San Francisco appeals court lifts stay on same-sex marriage

BN4b7LSCQAAuZ6H.jpgAnother barrier to same-sex marriage in California crumbled Friday afternoon, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco lifting its stay on same-sex marriages.

The move comes two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. By ruling that the Proposition 8 backers appealing Walker's decision had no standing, the Supreme Court paved the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

Still in place was a hold on same-sex marriages the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had imposed while the case made its way through court. The appeals court said earlier this week it would wait at least 25 days before enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, but Friday's news changes that.

See a photo gallery

Gov. Jerry Brown reacted by directing the California Department of Public Health to notify county clerks and registrar/recorders that they should immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to a statement from the governor's office.

"On my way to S.F. City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring!" Attorney General Kamala Harris said on Twitter. In a subsequent message, Harris said she was presiding over the wedding of Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Proposition 8.

"I am thrilled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California," Harris said in a statement. "Gay and lesbian couples have waited so long for this day and for their fundamental right to marry. Finally, their loving relationships are as legitimate and legal as any other."

The first couple to show up at the Sacramento County Clerk's office Friday were Sacramentans Nicola Simmersbach and Diana Luiz, who have been together 7 years.

"I didn't think this would happen today," Simmersbach said. "This isn't really what we planned on wearing but we're here."

"We've been fighting on the Capitol steps for this moment," Luis said.

Jeffrey Dastin contributed to this post.

PHOTO: A photo posted to Twitter shows California Attorney General Kamala Harris with the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case, Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier.

June 26, 2013
VIDEO: California's LGBT lawmakers praise rulings

Tears and jubilation mingled at the state Capitol this morning as openly gay members of California's LGBT legislative caucus lauded a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions solidifying the legal status of same-sex marriage.

"This is the first time in my life," Assembly Speaker John A. PĂ©rez said, "I've felt the law truly recognized me as equal to everyone else."

One of the Supreme Court's rulings invalidated key pieces of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples. In their other ruling, the justices decided that plaintiffs backing Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down in 2010, had no standing to challenge Walker's ruling.

June 26, 2013
Taxpayers group fears impact of gay marriage ruling on unrelated ballot measures

coupal.jpgFearing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in California could hobble the proponents of other, unrelated ballot initiatives, the president of a taxpayers group said today he is considering an effort to enshrine in the state constitution the authority of initiative proponents to defend their measures in court.

After state officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, declined to defend Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the proponents of the initiative lacked legal standing to defend the measure in court.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said he is considering a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to define initiative proponents as agents of the state for the limited purpose of defending ballot measures in court.

June 26, 2013
Jerry Brown tells California counties to issue gay marriage licenses

jerrybrown.jpgIn the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling undercutting California's same-sex marriage ban, the Brown administration told county officials this morning the ruling applies statewide - with all 58 counties required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once a lower court stay is lifted.

"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a prepared statement.

"In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted," the Democratic governor added.

In a letter to county clerks and records, the Department of Public Health said that "same-sex couples will once again be allowed to marry in California." However, the letter cautioned clerks, in bold type, to issue no marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a stay is lifted by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We do not know when the Ninth Circuit will issue this order, but it could take a month or more," the letter said. "County clerks and recorders should not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until this order is issued."

June 26, 2013
Rapid Response: The gay marriage decisions

It was a history-making day at the U.S. Supreme Court today, with the high court striking down key aspects of the federal ban on same-sex marriage known as the Defense of Marriage Act. The justices also tossed a case appealing a lower court's decision to invalidate Proposition 8, California's gay marriage prohibition.

The responses have already started flowing in. Here's a sampling:

Gov. Jerry Brown

"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

"Thank you, Supremes, for stopping the Proposition 8 and DOMA madness in the name of love. Now any Californian will be able to marry the person he or she loves and the federal government will recognize that marriage. This is not total victory, of course. There are LGBT people in most states who don't have marriage equality yet. The fundamental questions are of justice and equality and the Supreme Court's recent rulings on voting rights and affirmative action make it clear that these struggles don't end all at once. We still have to watch out to protect the rights of lesbians, gays and transgender people - and all people who suffer discrimination or inequality for any reason. Let's keep building on the Bill of Rights, and make sure no one loses out because of where they come from, because of how poor they are or because of who they love."

March 26, 2013
Rapid response: Reaction to Prop. 8 hearing at Supreme Court

RA_AD5_PUGNO (2).JPGHere are some of the statements issued by those commenting on today's hearings on Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court.

We'll add more as they come in.

Folsom attorney Andy Pugno, Proposition 8 author

Today we made legal history by presenting a bold, thoughtful and compelling case to the United States Supreme Court supporting the People's right to vote in favor of marriage being between a man and a woman. Every effort in the past four and a half years since voters passed Prop 8-- from choosing our distinguished legal team to filing numerous briefs with the California Supreme Court, the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to participating in a week-long trial, and all points in between -- has led us to today's historic moment before our country's highest court. ...

March 25, 2013
California mayors urge Supreme Court to overturn Prop. 8

gaymarriage.jpgAs the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments on California's same-sex marriage ban Tuesday, mayors of 25 California cities are urging the court to find the measure, Proposition 8, unconstitutional.

"As mayors, we have a responsibility to unite our cities, not divide them," the mayors say in a statement circulated by the liberal Courage Campaign. "Key to that is building family integrity, including insuring all loving, committed couples in our cities have the same freedoms and rights."

Mayors of Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Sacramento and Oakland are among those who have signed the statement. The statement does not include the signature of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, an opponent of Proposition 8.

Lee ordered a rainbow flag to be flown at San Francisco City Hall through Wednesday, and he issued a statement of his own.

"Here in San Francisco, we stand ready to once again to begin marrying same sex couples," he said. "We remain as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were nearly nine years ago when then Mayor Gavin Newsom led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday about the same-sex marriage ban California voters adopted in 2008. A federal appeals court previously ruled the ban unconstitutional.

Editor's note: Post updated at 2:35 p.m. to include remarks from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Skrebes of Washington reads on Saturday, while waiting in line with others outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin

March 2, 2013
Outgoing CA GOP chair: Gay marriage is 'difficult issue' for GOP

photo (11).JPGAs the legal debate over Proposition 8 comes to a head in the nation's high court, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro predicted today that gay marriage will continue to be a "difficult issue for a lot of Republicans" for years to come.

Dozens of prominent Republicans, including former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, recently signed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 in her 2010 campaign, said in a statement that the "facts and arguments presented during the legal process since then have had a profound impact on my thinking" on the issue.

Del Beccaro, who supports Proposition 8, acknowledged that public opinion on gay marriage is shifting -- a Field Poll released this week showed support in California inching over 60 percent -- but said he expects GOP candidates to continue to hold different views on the issue. He said, however, he doesn't "think that issue alone defines the party by any stretch."

"I think the reality is you're going to find that the Republican Party is going to have members on all sides of this issue for years to come and I think across this country for years to come it's going to be debated," he said.

Del Beccaro is leaving his position at a tough time for the party - Republicans hold no statewide offices, now account for less than 30 percent of registered voters and have significant campaign fund debt.

The outgoing chair said the party must focus on building better relationships with voters as it rebuilds, increasing communication and providing "voters with a clear alternative." He said he hopes his expected successor, former GOP legislative leader Jim Brulte, will be more successful in fundraising and managing the party's finances.

"It needs to have a greater relationship with all California voters," he said. "We are in the business of asking people (for) their vote, which means you have to have a relationship with more voters, especially when you are the minority party."

PHOTO AND VIDEO CREDIT: Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro speaks at his final press conference during the CRP's spring convention in Sacramento, March, 2, 2013. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.

February 28, 2013
Obama administration files brief opposing Prop. 8

BB_PROP_8_HEARING_1165_(1).JPGThe Obama administration on Thursday declared that gay marriage can be a right that deserves constitutional protection, supercharging a Supreme Court battle that started with California voters and is now shooting for the history books.

Shedding its earlier caution, the administration forcefully asserted in a key legal brief that the Constitution's equal-protection guarantees extend to same-sex couples seeking a California marriage license. The declaration was both voluntary, because the administration wasn't required to take a position on the state's Proposition 8, and emphatic.

"Proposition 8, by depriving same-sex couples of the right to marry, denies them the dignity, respect and stature accorded similarly situated opposite-sex couples under state law," Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote.

Subtly, though, the administration indicates that the Supreme Court can focus on the "particular circumstances" found in California and seven other states that likewise grant domestic partnership rights but not full marriage benefits. The designation of marriage, Verrilli noted, "confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match."

February 27, 2013
California files anti-Prop. 8 brief with Supreme Court

KamalaHarris.jpgCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday filed the state's amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Proposition 8 and give gay couples the "respect and dignity to which they are entitled."

In a 45-page brief, Harris declared that the same-sex marriage ban imposed by Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment's equal-protection and due-process guarantees. The ballot measure's "sole yet profound effect," Harris asserted, "was to take away the right of gay and lesbian couples to call their union a 'marriage' and to strip loving relationships of validation and dignity under law."

Harris further argued that the conservatives seeking to uphold Proposition 8 lacked the legal standing to sue. This is the boring-but-potentially important argument the court will consider first when justices hear oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case on March 26.

February 26, 2013
Meg Whitman voices support for gay marriage in Prop. 8 case

AA MEG RALLY7.JPGFormer GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman has changed course on California's ban on same-sex marriage, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.

Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 and vowed to defend the voter-approved law against legal challenges during her 2010 gubernatorial bid, is one of dozens high-profile Republicans who signed a legal brief supporting gay marriage that will be submitted this week, according to The New York Times.

The Hewlett-Packard chief executive issued a statement through her LinkedIn page saying that she has come "to embrace same-sex marriage after a period of careful review and reflection."

"As a candidate for governor three years ago, I supported Proposition 8. At the time, I believed the people of California had weighed in on this question and that overturning the will of the people was the wrong approach," she wrote. "The facts and arguments presented during the legal process since then have had a profound impact on my thinking."

December 7, 2012
Supreme Court to hear DOMA and Prop. 8 gay marriage cases

Prop8.JPGThe Supreme Court on Friday kept alive a legal challenge to gay marriage in California, by agreeing to review the state's ballot measure that banned same-sex marriages after thousands had already been performed.

In an ambitious move that stunned some legal observers, justices agreed to second-guess a lower court's decision striking down California's Proposition 8. The move means the high court, dominated by conservatives, could put the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban back into effect.

Simultaneously, justices also agreed to consider challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks gay married couples from receiving a host of federal benefits.

September 21, 2012
Speaker Pérez to appear in reading of show about Prop. 8 trial

Two years after making an in-name-only cameo in the trial over California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez is preparing to play a new role in the legal saga surrounding Proposition 8.

The Los Angeles Democrat announced today that he will participate next month in a reading of "8," a play about Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the challenge of the 2008 constitutional amendment now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. He'll share the stage at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre with award-winning actors Dustin Lance Black and Holland Taylor.

Pérez will play Stanford Professor Gary Segura, who made the case during the 2010 court proceedings that gays and lesbians are underrepresented and targeted in the political process. As part of the cross-examination by Proposition 8 attorneys, Segura was pressed on whether Pérez's own role as the first openly gay Assembly speaker undercut his argument.

In a statement, Pérez praised the reading as an "opportunity to help tell a powerful story of a victory celebrated by LGBT People, and people of conscience all over the country."

"As someone whose own rights were taken away by Proposition 8, and Proposition 22 before it, I am deeply honored to be participating in a production that brilliantly and vividly captures the critical moments of the trial that led to Judge Vaughn Walker's groundbreaking ruling," he said of the federal judge's finding that the ban is unconstitutional.

Proceeds from the Oct. 7 performance will go to American Foundation for Equal Rights, which supports the legal case against the ban.

August 16, 2012
Prop. 8 campaign slapped with $49,000 fine

The campaign that successfully backed an initiative banning same-sex marriage received a $49,000 fine today from the California Fair Political Practices Commission for violating state campaign finance disclosure laws.

Commission investigators, prompted by a state audit of the Yes on 8 campaign's 2007 and 2008 records, found the organization and its treasurer, David Bauer, failed to report $1,169,292 in contributions before the legal deadline, including $508,150 in late contributions of $1,000 or more. Investigators also found that the campaign committee didn't disclose who made a $10,000 wire transfer.

The Fair Political Practices Commission's enforcement division recommended the fine. The Proposition 8 campaign had already stipulated to the penalty before the commission sealed the deal with a 4-0 vote today.

Proposition 8, enacted by 52 percent of voters statewide in 2008, says that "only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California."

Federal trial and appellate courts ruled the measure unconstitutional, but the law has remained in effect as the case travels the court system. Proposition 8 supporters on July 31 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Related posts:
Update: Federal appeals court decision clears way for U.S. Supreme Court to take up gay marriage ban
Dan Walters: Proposition 8 ruling is aimed at U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

August 7, 2012
Prop. 8 campaign faces fines for violating campaign disclosures

The Proposition 8 campaign is facing a $49,000 fine for for violating campaign disclosure laws during the 2008 election.

The Fair Political Practices Commission enforcement division recommended the fine based on finding that the committee formed in support of the voter-approved ballot measure banning same-sex marriage failed to report $1,169,292 in contributions under the timelines required by state law, including $508,150 in late contributions of $1,000 or more given in the final days of the campaign. It also found that the committee failed to identify the donor behind a $10,000 wire transfer.

The investigation was triggered by a campaign committee filing audit by the Franchise Tax Board.

The commission will vote on whether to approve the proposed fine during its August 16 meeting in Sacramento.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 9:17 a.m. with added contribution numbers.

July 31, 2012
Prop. 8 petition filed with Supreme Court

Supporters of California's Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage filed their long-expected petition Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court, in hopes of overturning lower-court rulings.

The petition filed by attorney Charles Cooper and his legal allies, including Folsom-based attorney Andrew P. Pugno, called the same-sex marriage issue "exceedingly important," and spelled out multiple arguments in support of Prop. 8.

"The profoundly important question whether the ancient and vital institution of marriage should be fundamentally redefined to include same-sex couples is currently a matter of great debate in our nation," the brief states.

The Prop. 8 forces' brief warns of "widespread and immediate negative consequences" if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision striking down Prop. 8 is allowed to stand. More pointedly, from a practical standpoint, the brief cites ways in which the Ninth Circuit ruling differs from other courts that have considered the same-sex marriage issue; the Supreme Court will often take cases precisely in order to resolve these kind of judicial splits.

June 5, 2012
Watchdog investigating anti-gay-marriage group for failing to report contributions

The state's Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating whether an anti-gay-marriage group failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars received in 2008 to promote Proposition 8, including several thousand dollars from an organization with ties to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Little-known GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger asked the commission to look into whether the National Organization for Marriage's "Yes on 8" campaign failed to report $350,400 it received nearly four years ago, including $10,000 from Romney's Alabama super PAC, "Free and Strong America."

Karger's complaint to the FPPC about $37,000 in non-monetary contributions made by the Mormon church to the gay-marriage ban campaign resulted in a $5,500 fine two years ago. Mormon officials agreed to pay the penalty, but denied the church hid the contributions. Instead, they said, the church had run afoul of daily reporting requirements.

"I'm two for two in California," Karger, who is the lone openly-gay GOP candidate, said in a telephone interview with The Bee's Torey Van Oot, referring to his FPPC complaint against the Mormon church.

A call and an email to the National Organization for Marriage wasn't immediately returned, but the group has said in the past that Karger has illegally put its private tax records in the public domain to press his complaints.

Karger said the documents in question are "absolutely" a part of the public domain and legal to be released.

June 5, 2012
Update: Federal appeals court decision clears way for U.S. Supreme Court to take up gay marriage ban

San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided it will not revisit the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, which clears the path now for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue.

To be heard by an 11-member panel, a majority of the court's 25 active judges would have to vote for a rehearing the case. The motion failed to get a majority, the decision said.

The decision, released this morning on the court's website, leaves untouched a February ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that the voter-approved ban discriminated against gays and lesbians. The panel rejected the argument by groups seeking to uphold the law that the measure furthered "responsible procreation."

"This is a great day for Americans who care about equality," said attorney David Boies, co-counsel for plaintiff's seeking to overturn the Proposition 8 initiative. He added: "This vestige of state-sponsored discrimination and second class citizenship will be removed from the constitution of our state."

Brian Brown, president of the National Association for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said the decision paves the way for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on California's gay marriage ban.

"I think now this will get us more quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court, where this nonsense will stop and we will win," Brown said. "There is no constitutional right to redefine marriage. It is pretty simple."

Other cases may be headed in the same direction.

Last week, for example, Boston's 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional for denying benefits to same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is legal.

Legislators and court decisions have legalized same-sex marriage in Massachuetts, seven other states and the District of Columbia. But when the issue has come to a popular vote, as it did four years ago in California, the the electorate has limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Public opinion since then has been shifting, with national polls showing growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.

The hot-button issue took a higher profile last month when Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama's announced last month that he favors making marriage legal for same-sex couples.

Obama's Republican opponent in the presidential race, former Massachusetts Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage.

Ninth Circuit judges Diarmuid Fionntain O'Scannlain, Jay S.Bybee and Carlos T. Bea dissented, citing Obama's remark that he believes the U.S. Constitution leaves the issue for states to decide and that the president would like to see the discussion over gay marriage continue "in a respectful way."

"Our court has silenced any such respectful conversation," the judges wrote.

The Bee's Peter Hecht contributed to this report.

April 3, 2012
Proposition 8 campaign architect leaves Sacramento firm

BB PROP 8 RALLY 056 Frank Schubert.JPGSacramento political consultant Frank Schubert, who guided Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage to victory in 2008, announced today that he is leaving the firm he founded.

Schubert suggested his advocacy for conservative causes -- opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage -- was hindering Schubert Flint Public Affairs' work with corporate clients.

"My conservative ideology and my faith have been major guiding forces in my decision to work on some important but controversial issues, including life and marriage," he said in a statement. "But the firm has become much bigger than me personally. I don't want my work on social issues to continue to overshadow the people who work for me, or the clients we serve. ...

"The reality is that it's very difficult for a public affairs professional to serve both corporate clients and work on the conservative side of social issues that challenge popular culture. Schubert said in a statement. "I've chosen to try to make a difference fighting for families, faith and the principles of the American founding, endowed by God, that gave rise to this exceptional nation of ours. I'm excited about the next chapter in my career."

Schubert was back in the news this year with the release of "Question One -- The Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in America," a documentary about his work on the Maine ballot measure to repeal a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature in 2009.

Schubert said his new company -- Mission: Public Affairs LLC -- will work on national "conservative and social issues."

Jeff Flint, meanwhile, will take over as president of the firm and "lead a restructuring and rebranding" to "focus the company exclusively on serving corporate, governmental, nonprofit and trade association clients, according to the announcement.

PHOTO CREDIT: Yes on Proposition 8 campaign manager Frank Schubert talks a news conference at the Riverside Wesleyan Church in Sacramento on Monday Oct. 20, 2008. Brian Baer / Sacramento Bee file, 2008.

February 7, 2012
Proposition 8 lawyer vows to appeal 'one way or the other'

The fight over California's same-sex marriage ban has been presumed for years to be destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, and a lawyer for Proposition 8 backers confirmed today that they'll appeal this morning's decision "one way or the other."

But when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this morning that the ban is unconstitutional, its reasoning focused so narrowly on Proposition 8 that a lawyer for same-sex marriage proponents suggested the Supreme Court might be less inclined to take up the case.

"The grounds for the opinion, in my view, do make it somewhat less likely that the Supreme Court will take it," said the lawyer, David Boies.

Unlike in many other states, gay and lesbian people could wed in California for a brief period before Proposition 8's passage in 2008. The appeals court ruled that California erred in stripping them of a right they previously enjoyed. It did not consider the broader question of whether gay and lesbian couples may ever be denied the right to wed.

Boies said the Supreme Court might elect to "wait for a case that would raise the more general issue." But Ted Olson, also a lawyer for gay-marriage proponents, said it may be "very difficult" for the Supreme Court to ignore a case of such magnitude. The two lawyers have been planning for years for the case to wind up in the Supreme Court, as have lawyers working with Proposition 8 proponents.

Backers of the same-sex marriage ban said today that they have not yet decided whether to appeal directly to the Supreme Court or request a review by a larger panel of the appeals court.

"Either way, one way or the other, the case will continue on," said Folsom lawyer Andy Pugno, the author of Proposition 8.

He said the focus of the court's ruling is unlikely to dissuade the Supreme Court from taking it, likely next year.

"This case is all about the rights of the voters to make a decision on an important public policy matter vs. one or two judges substituting their opinions for the will of the voters," Pugno said.

February 7, 2012
Prop. 8 decision cites Marx (Groucho), Monroe (Marilyn) and Kennedy (Anthony)

Groucho Marx.JPGIt's not every day that a federal appeals court cites late comedian Groucho Marx in a decision, especially one as important as overturning California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

But a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did exactly that Tuesday, citing Marx's quip that "marriage is a wonderful institution...but who wants to live in an institution?"

It was one of several cultural references (another was to the title of a Marilyn Monroe movie, "How to Marry a Millionaire") in the decision that was narrowly hinged on whether the state had the right to withdraw the right to marry once it had been extended, as it had been in California by a state Supreme Court decision.

The federal panel sidestepped whether gays and lesbians had a constitutional right to marry, saying, "We therefore need not and do not consider whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry."

But it declared that the state's voters could not terminate that right, saying that violated the Constitution's equal protection clause.

The decision repeatedly cited a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision setting aside a Colorado ballot measure barring certain rights to homosexuals, and thus appeared to be aimed at influencing the author of that decision (Romer v. Evans), Anthony Kennedy.

It's widely believed that when California's Proposition 8 reaches the Supreme Court, Kennedy will hold the decisive vote since the other eight justices are evenly divided between liberals and conservatives and Kennedy is often the swing vote.

February 7, 2012
Live chat with Dan Walters: Appeals court upholds gay marriage

February 7, 2012
Read the Proposition 8 decision

Prop 8

February 7, 2012
Appeals court upholds gay marriage

A federal appeals court today ruled California's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, upholding a federal judge's landmark ruling in a case likely destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 decision, by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is a major lift for gay-rights advocates in a nationally-watched case. The proponents of Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban voters approved in 2008, are expected to appeal.

"By using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitimate reason for doing so, the people of California violated the Equal Protection Clause," the majority wrote. "We hold Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on this ground."

LIVE CHAT AT NOON: Dan Walters hosts live chat on the ruling

CAPITOL ALERT: Read the Proposition 8 decision

ELECTION 2012: Gay marriage returns to the political spotlight

BACK STORY: California's Proposition 8

WASHINGTON STATE: Senate approves bill to legalize gay marriage

NEW JERSEY: Governor fires a zinger in feud over gay marriage

The decision by the appeals court upholds the historic ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in 2010 that the ban violates gay people's equal protection and due process rights. The ruling has been stayed pending appeal.

The majority, in an opinion written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, said it decided the case on "narrow grounds." It ruled the gay marriage ban unconstitutional because it stripped gay and lesbian people in California of a right they previously enjoyed.

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," the ruling said.

The judges did not not consider the broader question of whether gay and lesbian couples may ever be denied the right to be married.

The panel that issued its decision this morning also ruled against a bid to dismiss Walker's ruling because the judge, who has since retired, did not disclose that he is gay and was in a long-term relationship.

The matter is unlikely to be resolved until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. The proponents of Proposition 8 could appeal directly to the Supreme Court or first request a review by a larger panel of the appeals court.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge N. Randy Smith said he was not convinced the state had no legitimate interest in Proposition 8, and he argued for judicial restraint when intervening in legislative enactments.

The ban's proponents,, carried the appeal forward after then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, now governor, declined to defend the gay-marriage ban in court. The California Supreme Court ruled in November that proponents of ballot initiatives could defend the measures themselves in such cases.

February 6, 2012
Proposition 8 decision to be released on Tuesday

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to release its opinion on the constitutionality of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday morning.

The appeals court is deciding whether to uphold or reverse a federal judge's 2010 ruling that Proposition 8, which was approved by voters in 2008, was unconstitutional. Regardless of the outcome, the decision is expected to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The opinion will be posted online at 10 a.m, according to a press release from the court.

The opinion is also expected to address Proposition 8 proponents' argument that the federal court ruling should be thrown out on the basis that the judge in that case, Vaughn Walker, failed to disclose his own sexual orientation and the fact he had been in a long-term same-sex relationship. An earlier motion to that effect was dismissed by another U.S. District judge last year.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated from an earlier version to clarify the nature of the motion against Walker. Updated 12:30 p.m., Feb. 6, 2012.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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