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Proposition 8 headed to Supreme Court

Controversial gay-marriage ban attacked by lawmakers

Posted: March 4, 2009 2:07 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A challenge to Proposition 8 — the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage — heads back to the California Supreme Court this week with a recommendation by state legislators that the measure be overturned.

Both houses of the Legislature passed resolutions Monday endorsing the effort to overturn the constitutional amendment, approved by voters in November. Prop. 8 defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

The resolutions passed along party lines — 18-14 in the Senate and 45-27 in the Assembly — with several members absent in both chambers.

“We’re basically saying to the voters, ‘We don’t care what you think,’” said state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, who opposed the resolution along with fellow Republicans.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday from both sides of the Proposition 8 debate. Prop. 8 opponents don’t expect a decision immediately, a gay-rights spokeswoman said.

Voters passed Proposition 8 on Nov. 4 with 52 percent of the vote.

The constitutional amendment overturned a May 15, 2008, state Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage despite an earlier measure approved by voters that banned same-sex marriage.

The Legislature’s action coming so close to the court proceeding seems suspicious, said Runner, whose district takes in parts of the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We are trying to influence the court,” he said.

Proposition 8 opponents argue that the initiative didn’t belong on the ballot at all. They said it represented a revision to the state

Constitution because it stripped away existing rights, and they argued that only the Legislature can place such revisions before voters.

Proposition 8 hit home for the Galluccio family. “We were devastated. We couldn’t believe it,” Jon Galluccio said.

Jon and Michael Galluccio are a gay couple who live in Stevenson Ranch. In a state won easily by President Barack Obama during the November election, the Galluccios were surprised a gay-marriage ban passed, Michael Galluccio said.

“We took a major step — and at the same time kicked other people to the side,” he said.

The couple’s frustration after the November vote boiled into the street, where they protested alongside their adopted children, Madison and Adam Galluccio.

“Holding the signs and protesting was very important and it was very cathartic,” Michael Galluccio said.

Jon Galluccio is glad the battle for gay marriage is headed back to court.

“The (state Supreme Court) will overturn it. I have no doubt about that,” Jon Galluccio said. He also believes the court will permanently legalize  gay marriage in California.

“I think the visual after November put a face on who is affected by Prop. 8,” Jon Galluccio said.

Leaving the gay marriage debate in the hands of the Supreme Court makes Runner uneasy. “I don’t trust the court on this issue,” he said. That distrust goes back to the court’s decision to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage in May 2008.

“I was disappointed the court didn’t issue a stay last year until the people got a chance to vote. It put us all in a dilemma,” he said.

The dilemma became the 18,000 gay couples who married between the May state Supreme Court decision and the November 2008 election, Runner said.

“We are still married, but to deny the right to others is wrong,” Jon Galluccio said.

Lawyers for the National Center for Lesbian Rights will square off against Ken Starr — who garnered national attention for his involvement in the Monica Lewinsky-President Bill Clinton scandal — during oral arguments Thursday.

The NCLR expects a decision from the state Supreme Court within 90 days, a spokeswoman said.
Runner said the Supreme Court needs to carry out the will of the voters.

“The (court) can’t continually go against what California decided,” Runner said.


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