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Religious Tolerance logo

Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v.
: California lawsuit challenging
constitutionality of Prop. 8

2013-JUN-26: U.S. Supreme Court
Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.
Marriage equality returns to California.

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Continued from a previous essay

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for "same-sex marriage."

"LGBT" is an acronym for "Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender persons and Transsexuals."

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2013-JUN-26: U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry:

The court issued rulings in two blockbuster cases on the same day. One declared a major part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. This is the section that prevents the federal government from recognizing marriages considered legal in any state if they involve two spouses of the same gender. It requires the federal government to deny them 1,138 marriage-related privileges, benefits, and protections routinely given to opposite-sex couples. The other ruling involves same-sex marriage (SSM) in California, and is discussed below.

Plaintiffs in the case are Kris Perry & Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple who parent four sons, and Jeff Zarrillo & Paul Katami, a gay couple who also want to raise a family. They sought the right to marry in California, which was prohibited by Proposition 8, a citizen initiative narrowly passed on election day in 2008-NOV. It banned all same-sex marriages in the state. The Court's ruling was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Rather than decide whether Prop. 8 was constitutional or not, the Supreme Court determined that ProtectMarriage -- the group who originally promoted Prop. 8 and who later launched the appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court -- did not have standing. The ruling stated in part:

"... a 'generalized grievance'—no matter how sincere—is insufficient to confer standing."

The court reasoned that ProtectMarriage would not suffer any tangible injuries if SSMs resumed in the state. They would obviously suffer what is to them is the indignity of living in a state where all loving, committed couples can marry whether they be of the opposite-sex or same-sex. However, such mental and emotional distress is not considered real harm by the courts. Thus, they had no standing to appeal the case. The Court ruled that only state officials, like the Governor or Attorney General had standing to appeal the case. That means that:

  • The appeal to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court were not valid.

  • Only the District Court ruling by Judge Walker was valid.

  • Judge Walker's ruling applied only to the State of California. 1

Chief Justice Roberts wrote:

"Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals]."

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2013-JUN-26: Initial speculation that the case might be appealed again to the Court of Appeals:

There was immediate speculation that ProtectMarriage might attempt to claim that Judge Walker's ruling in District Court really only applied to the two same-sex couples who originally launched the case as plaintiffs. That is, Walker's decision allowed only the four plaintiffs to marry; the tens of thousands of same-sex couples in California who would like to marry during the next few years would only be recognized by the state as domestic partners, or as roommates, and would not be able to become married spouses in California.

Professor John Eastman, of Chapman University, who supports Prop. 8 said: "This [case] is far from over, I can tell you."

Later that day, the chief counsel for ProtectMarriage, Andy Pugno, said only that:

"It is possible there could be further litigation, and it is possible that this is going to be the end of it."

ProtectMarriage would be met with formidable opposition if they tried to resurrect Prop. 8. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said:

"We already have motions drafted. We're ready to go back to court.... We will not rest until we have marriage equality throughout this country."

There was also speculation that ProtectMarriage might appeal again on the basis that the two couples who were the plaintiffs lived in two different areas of California: Los Angeles and Alameda counties. Thus they suggested that Judge Walker's ruling only applied to people from those two counties. UC Davis Law professor Vikram Amar at the University of California, Davis agreed with this assertion, on the basis that the lawsuit was not filed as a class action. But he suggested that:

"... limiting it, even if it is the legally correct thing to do, is pretty unlikely at this point."

Law professor Gerald Uelmen at Santa Clara suggested that ProtectMarriage "... would be laughed out of state court" if they argued this position.

CBS News stated that:

"... the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it would give Prop. 8 supporters at least 25 days -- maybe more -- to ask the Supreme Court to rehear the case before lifting the stay on same-sex marriages that it imposed while Hollingsworth went through the court. While [Governor Jerry] Brown [D] wants local officials to to start recognizing same-sex marriages, he said that should happen only after the Ninth Circuit lifts its stay.

Nevertheless, UCLA constitutional law professor Adam Winkler told

'It does seem like we are on a fast track to same-sex marriage in California. It's effectively a done deal. There may be some litigation in the meantime, but none of it's likely to be successful." 2

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California Governor orders counties to resume granting marriage licenses as soon as the stay is lifted:


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2013-JUN-28: Unexpected news: Appeals Court lifts stay. Speculation of a repeat appeal is squashed:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had originally stated that they would leave their stay in place for at least 25 days. However, on JUN-28, only two days after the Supreme Court's ruling, they reversed this decision and terminated the hold on SSMs. This would make it difficult if not impossible for ProtectMarriage to make a second appeal to the Court to overturn its earlier decision.

General counsel for ProtectMarriage, Andy Pugno, responded negatively. He said:

"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.

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."

Governor Jerry Brown reacted immediately to the court action by instructing the Department of Public Health to notify county clerks and registrars to begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.

Attorney General Kamala Harris tweeted: "On my way to S.F. City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring!." She also issued a statement:

""I am thrilled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California. 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." 4

Day 1 of the resumption of SSM in Sacramento County Courthouse saw many same-sex couples come dressed in ordinary street clothes to seize the opportunity to be married. The following video will move some people to tears of joy, and others to tears of anger, sadness, frustration and even raw fear. Many opponents to SSM are also evangelical Christians. Their interpretation of the six "clobber passages" in the Bible which discuss same-gender sexual behavior causes them to believe that God hates SSM, and may well retaliate against the residents of California with a massive earthquake or other natural disaster for allowing SSMs to resume.

"Same-sex Marriages Resume in California"
by the Sacramento Bee:


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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Maura Dolan, Jean Merl, Maria LaGanga and Anthony York, "Same-sex weddings to resume in California soon, officials say." Los Angeles Times, 2013-JUN-26, at:
  2. Stephanie Condon, "What's next for California after Prop. 8 case dismissed," CBX News, 2013-JUN-26, at:
  3. Brian Moulton, "So, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments – what's next?," Human Rights Campaign, 2013-APR-08, at:
  4. "Same-sex Marriages Resume in California," Sacramento Bee, 2013-JUN-29, at:
  5. "Prop. 8 backers slam 'outrageous' decision to lift stay," Sacramento Bee, 2013-JUN-28, at:
  6. "CA GOV: Counties Ordered to Resume Granting Gay Marriages," News Breaker, at:
  7. The text of the Supreme Court ruling can be read on the Los Angeles Times web site at:

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Site navigation:

Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > California > Prop 8 > here

Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2013-JUN-26
Latest update: 2013-JUL-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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