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Proposition 8 challenges begin

March 5, 2009 |  9:51 am

Jessica and Sandra Rodrigues show their support for Prop. 8 outside the California Supreme Court.

Read latest blog updates on Prop 8 hearing.

Full Times story: California Supreme Court signals mixed response to Proposition 8

Lanow_prop8ontrial_6 The lead lawyer for opponents of Proposition 8's effective ban on gay marriage opened today's high-stakes challenge of the November ballot initiative by arguing before the California Supreme Court that the measure unconstitutionally deprives same-sex couples of the fundamental right to marry.

"What Proposition 8 accomplishes, if it were upheld by this court, is to establish the constitutional principle that a majority can take away a fundamental right from a group defined as a suspect class" that has already suffered a history of discrimination, said Shannon P. Minter, lead counsel for those petitioning the state's high court to invalidate the measure that redefined legal marriage."

Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justice Joyce L. Kennard pressed Minter to explain why Proposition 8 opponents believe the initiative was an illegal revision of the state Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature rather than the simple electoral majority that narrowly passed the measure.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar also asked Minter how the initiative changed anything other than the "nomenclature" of gay marriages as the state continues to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples.

Minter replied that deprivation of the right to have same-sex marriages "of equal stature and dignity" accorded opposite-sex couples represented discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: Jessica and Sandra Rodrigues show their support for Prop. 8 outside the California Supreme Court. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

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