Reactions to the historic Prop. 8 decision — with updates

First, the most important reaction we won’t hear is from President Obama. That has to change. Please sign our open letter to President Obama asking him to come out in support of full marriage equality. It’s time.

[UPDATE, via Kerry Eleveld, the White House did put out a statement:

“The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans.”

Note to White House: Obama can promote LGBT equality by supporting marriage and by ending the defense of DOMA and DADT in courts.

NOTE FROM JOHN: Wow, really? Did the White House just say that they agreed with the federal court’s reasoning that “no rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” Really? I doubt it. I think the White House just tried to have its cake and eat it too – sound supportive, but not dare embrace the decision itself. But now that they’ve weighed in, and tried to make it look like they’re on our side in this case – they are such great self-proclaimed champions of LGBT equality, they’d have you remember – it’s time for the White House to answer the question, do they agree with the ruling or not? Maybe you should sign our open letter to the President and ask him.]

We’re getting a ton of statements via email. Here’s a sampling. We’ll keep adding to it. Also, the decision has been stayed until August 6th, via Lisa Keen.

Ted Olson:

“We came to court to seek for Kris, Sandy, Paul and Jeff the same right to marry that all other Americans enjoy, and to ensure that they receive equal protection under the law as guaranteed to every American by the Constitution. Through its decision today, the court has acted in the best traditions of a legal system established to uphold the Constitution and the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded. On no less than 14 occasions, the Supreme Court has held that marriage is a fundamental right. This decision recognizes that Proposition 8 denied the plaintiffs, and tens-of-thousands of other Californians, that fundamental constitutional right and treated them unequally.”

David Boies:

“The Supreme Court has long held that marriage is a fundamental right. Equal protection under the law is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and this ruling affirms that universal right of every American. Depriving the fundamental right to marry causes grievous harm to millions of Americans and their children.”

Governor Schwarzenegger, who is the defendant in the case, but didn’t defend it. (Meaning we need to make sure that Jerry Brown is elected Governor. GOPer Meg Whitman supported Prop. 8):

“For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.

“Today’s decision is by no means California’s first milestone, nor our last, on America’s road to equality and freedom for all people.’

Congressman Paul Hodes (also a candidate for Senate in New Hampshire):

The U.S. District Court of Northern California’s decision to strike down Proposition 8 is a huge win in our ongoing fight for equality.

There is much work still to be done, and many more battles to face – but the march toward universal marriage equality continues. It’s time that the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed once and for all. When I get to the US Senate, I will lead the charge to repeal DOMA and ensure equal rights and protections for every citizen in this country.

I am thrilled with today’s ruling, and more determined than ever to repeal DOMA and help achieve universal marriage equality for all Americans.

Activist Charlene Strong:

“Today’s ruling is very good news. LGBT rights are not special rights. These are human rights. Anyone who says otherwise, that all citizens are not entitled full equality in our country is speaking from their own personal bias and nothing more. This has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with who you love…. I am an American and I am proud of that. I am not fighting for my rights alone — I am standing up and fighting for every gay and lesbian couple who pay their taxes, contribute to society and who want the same protections every other American is afforded if and when they choose to marry.”

Rick Jacobs from the Courage Campaign:

“This ruling is an historic milestone for millions of loving families, for all who have fought to realize the dream of equality under the law, and for our nation as a whole. While today concludes the first step in a legal process that could take up to two years, Judge Walker’s ruling is a landmark victory in America’s centuries long war against discrimination, and the result of months of extraordinary work by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, and courageous plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.”

Former White House Chief of Staff, now President of the Center for American Progress (CAP) John Podesta:

“Judge Walker’s decision reaffirms the Constitution’s command that all Americans must receive ‘equal protection of the laws.’ Prop 8 is incompatible with our Constitution and a long line of precedent rejecting laws that single out a certain class of Americans for disfavored legal status. Today’s decision does nothing more than restore the Constitution’s promise to millions of American couples. Because Constitutional precedent so clearly rejects Prop 8, I have every confidence that this decision will be upheld on appeal.”

Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry:

“Today’s federal ruling strikes down a cruel and unfair constitutional amendment that should never have become law and affirms that the freedom to marry belongs to every American. As the first court to strike down race restrictions on marriage said in 1948, “the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice.” There is no gay exception in the Constitution to personal choice and the right to marry, and there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

Judge Walker’s decision will be appealed and litigation will continue, but what we witnessed in the clear light of his courtroom cannot be erased.

Judy Shepard:

After Matt came out to me, he once asked me if I thought gay couples would ever be allowed to get married. I told him I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, but it probably would in his. It’s so sad, and ironic, that it turned out the other way. But this case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (who, though straight, is the best LGBT member of Congress:

“Today’s court ruling on Proposition 8 is a powerful declaration for those of us who believe in equal protection for all Americans. This affirmation of marriage equality in our nation’s most populous state shows, once again, that laws preventing same-sex couples from marrying serve no legitimate purpose, and that efforts to deprive gay men and lesbians of fundamental rights and to single them out for discrimination are anathema to our const
itutional system. As Judge Walker recognized, like opposite-sex couples, ‘same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners . . . . love [does] not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.’ I join Californians in celebrating this victory, and urge passage of my legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, in order to provide all legally married Americans and their families the full measure of protections and obligations of federal law.”

DNC Chair Tim Kaine:

I applaud the U.S. District Court’s ruling today striking down Proposition 8 in California. The Democratic Party opposes attempts to discriminatorily limit rights granted to Americans, and Proposition 8 was just such an attempt. Discrimination against same-sex couples should not be added to constitutions – which are documents meant fundamentally to protect citizens against discrimination. As a former civil rights attorney, it pleases me to see this principle upheld and to see America take another step in the march towards greater equality.

Statements from the Task Force is here. HRC’s is here.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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