Supreme Court Schedules Hearings on Perry and Windsor Cases in March

The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will hear oral arguments in the Perry case (Proposition 8) on Tuesday, March 26th.  The Windsor case is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27th.  Read AFER’s press release below:

Washington, DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted review in Perry to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court also indicated today that it will hear oral argument in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.

The Supreme Court will receive written briefs from the parties in Perry and Windsor prior to hearing oral argument.

READ THE SUPREME COURT’S MARCH 2013 ORAL ARGUMENT CALENDAR HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Oral-Argument-Calendar.pdf
READ THE SUPREME COURT’S ORDER GRANTING CERTIORARI HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-12-07-Certiorari-Granted.pdf 
READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf 

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copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Hear Proposition 8 Case

This has been quite a day for court challenges.  This press release just in …

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2012
PRESS CONTACTS:
Elizabeth Riel 310.560.4886 or elizabeth@afer.org
Manny Rivera 323.892.2081 or manny@afer.org
U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Hear Proposition 8 Case
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: We are ready to defend our victories before the Supreme Court
Washington, DC – Today, the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 asked the United States Supreme Court to review the landmark federal appeals court ruling in Perry v. Brown (now Hollingsworth v. Perry) that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  Proposition 8 stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
“The Supreme Court has long held that the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights—if not the most fundamental right—of all Americans,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies.  “As we have said from the very beginning of this case, the denial of that fundamental right seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.  Today’s petition presents the Justices with the chance to affirm our Constitution’s central promises of liberty, equality, and human dignity.”
“This case is about the equal rights guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution,” said Plaintiffs’ counsel Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.  “Because two federal courts have already concluded that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, gay and lesbian Californians should not have to wait any longer to marry the person they love.  We therefore will oppose the petition for a writ of certiorari.  However, we recognize that this case presents constitutional issues of national significance, and are ready to defend our victories before the Supreme Court.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.
“Two federal courts and a majority of Americans agree: discriminatory laws like Proposition 8 have no place in the United States of America today,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer.  “This petition by the anti-marriage forces is the last gasp of a dying argument that cannot overcome our Constitution’s guarantee of liberty and equality for all.”
On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling that affirmed the historic August 2010 judgment of the Federal District Court that struck down Proposition 8.  The Ninth Circuit held:
“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 Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
On June 5, 2012, the full Ninth Circuit denied Proponents’ request for an eleven-judge panel to rehear the case, known as rehearing en banc.
Proponents’ request for Supreme Court review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, is only granted upon an affirmative vote of four Justices.
READ THE NINTH CIRCUIT’S ORDER DENYING REHEARING EN BANC HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012-06-05-En-Banc-Order.pdf
READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf 
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About the American Foundation for Equal Rights
The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  After bringing together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

California Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund Wants Donations to Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the anti-gay Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund is seeking some $2 million in donations to continue its fight in the U.S. Supreme Court against the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.  The organization has disclosed that the cost of its battle so far is an estimated $10 million!

Imagine what serious good works could have been funded with $10 million, folks.  Youth centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, support for battered women … but I digress.

Tax documents obtained by HRC revealed that the bulk of the organization’s funding came from a handful of donors.   Six contributors donated $3.3 million (of a total $4.3 million) in 2010 and five contributors donated  $1.7 million plus in 2009, totaling over 50% of the group’s annual revenue.

Millions of dollars were donated to force discrimination on loving, committed same-sex couples.  Again, I must ask why all of that cash wasn’t earmarked for something that might actually have benefited humanity?

Interestingly, HRC reports that Andy Pugno, the general counsel for Prop 8 who is currently running for state office in California, is involved with the fundraising efforts — which (surprise, surprise) have also netted him a significant benefit. The The Law Offices of Andrew Pugno received more than a half million dollars from the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund in the two-year period 2009 and 2010.  Interesting.

View Prop 8 Defense Fund’s 2009 990 here.  For still more shake-your-head fun, view the organization’s 2010 990 here. 

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Landmark Decision Striking Down Prop 8 WILL Stand

Today, lesbian and gay couples celebrate yet another victory!

Here’s the press release from AFER:
Landmark Decision Striking Down Proposition 8 Will Stand
Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing En Banc Filed by Anti-Marriage Proponents of Prop. 8
*** AFER to Hold National Media Conference Call at 10:30 a.m. PDT ***
RSVP to melissa@afer.org for access code
San Francisco, CA – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a request from anti-marriage forces to reconsider its landmark ruling in Perry v. Brown that found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  Proposition 8 stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  AFER will hold a national media conference call at 10:30 a.m. PDT to discuss the significance and impact of today’s order.  Speaking on the call will be Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies; and AFER co-founder Chad Griffin.
“Today’s order is yet another federal court victory for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in California and around the nation,” said AFER co-founder Chad Griffin.  “The final chapter of the Proposition 8 case has now begun.  Should the United States Supreme Court decide to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in our case, I am confident that the Justices will stand on the side of fairness and equality.”
On February 7, 2012, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit concluded that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The Ninth Circuit panel majority held:
“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 Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
The request for a larger eleven-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit to reconsider the case, known as rehearing en banc, is only granted upon a majority vote of the Ninth Circuit’s 25 judges in regular active service at the time Proponents’ petition was filed.
The Ninth Circuit also rejected Proponents’ renewed attempt to impugn the reputation of the United States District Chief Judge who struck down Proposition 8.  Unable to defend Proposition 8 on its merits, Proponents claim that the now-retired Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker was disqualified from ruling on Proposition 8 and that his historic decision should be vacated because he is gay and in a committed relationship.  The Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected Proponents’ offensive argument, stating: “To do otherwise would demonstrate a lack of respect for the integrity of our federal courts.”
READ THE NINTH CIRCUIT’S ORDER GRANTING REHEARING EN BANC HERE: www.afer.org/legal-filings/ninth-circuit-en-banc-order/   

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT Fast Friday News 5/4/12

Fast Friday is a weekly feature in which I provide links to news items and other resources of interest to the LGBT community.

I was away this week — with spotty wi-fi and cell reception — so please forgive the lack of posts.  I do have a few tid-bits to pass along on this glorious Fast Friday.  Enjoy!

In Romney’s Gay Rights Mess, Silence Wasn’t An Option   [Buzz Feed Politics]

Dan Savage Under Fire After Challenging Bible Talk   [Advocate]

High school yearbook article sparks furor in Lenoir City. Parents, students outraged at gay piece [KnoxNews]

I love this one … “One Million” moms target JC Penney again, this time over lesbians in catalog
[San Diego Lesbian & Gay news]

Finally, here’s a Press Release L.A. Theatre Works:

L.A. Theatre Works recording of all-star “8” is set to release on audiobook and air nationally on public radio for Gay Pride month in June. L.A. Theatre Works (LATW) has recorded “8,” a dramatization of the legal fight against California’s Proposition 8 written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) founding board member Dustin Lance Black, for release on audiobook and for broadcast on LATW’s nationally syndicated radio theater series. Directed by Rob Reiner and featuring an all-star cast that includes Kevin Bacon, George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christine Lahti, Jane Lynch, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen and John C. Reilly, “8” will air on public radio stations across the U.S. during the week of June 9 (check local listings for times). The broadcast, which also includes conversations with Black, Reiner, George Clooney and other members of the cast, as well as interviews with lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson who led the charge against Prop 8, will be heard locally in Southern California on Sunday, June 10 from 8-10 pm on 90.7 FM KPFK, and will also be available for streaming on demand at www.latw.org. The audiobook will be available on CD and for digital download on June 1 through all major retailers, including iTunes and Amazon. Review copies are available on request.

“8” is the unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry. The script is based on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

L.A. Theatre Works recorded the West Coast premiere reading of “8” on March 3 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, where the benefit event, presented by AFER and Broadway Impact, unfolded in front of a sold-out crowd and a worldwide audience watching on YouTube and raised more than $2 million for the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.

“It was an honor to record this significant work which has the power to change hearts and minds,” said L.A. Theatre Works producing director Susan Loewenberg. “This project is a great example of what the creative community does best—using its celebrity and talent to serve a just cause.”

“This play will continue to show Americans—one by one—that truth and justice can prevail over prejudice and fear,” said AFER board president Chad Griffin. “Try as they might, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 cannot hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. The fight to secure marriage equality is at the heart of our generation’s search for greater freedom—this play shows why.”

The L.A. Theatre Works recording of “8” features an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional after presiding over the historic twelve-day public trial; and Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy, and Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the renowned attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore.

Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Christine Lahti and Golden Globe Award-winner Jamie Lee Curtis star as plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple together for eleven years and the parents of four boys. Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-nominee Matthew Morrison and acclaimed White Collar television star Matt Bomer play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple together over ten years.

Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee Kevin Bacon plays Charles J. Cooper, the lead attorney for the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Jane Lynch stars as prominent opponent of marriage equality Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Academy, Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominee John C. Reilly plays David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values.

Additional roles are played by Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown; Golden Globe Award-winner, SAG and Emmy Award-nominee Chris Colfer; Emmy Award-nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson; prominent gay rights activist Cleve Jones; Tony Award-nominee Rory O’Malley; acclaimed Star Trek television and film star George Takei; Emmy Award-winner Yeardley Smith; and Vanessa Garcia, Jansen Panettiere, James Pickens, Jr. and Bridger Zadina.

L.A. Theatre Works can be heard on the following stations (check local listings for broadcast times): 90.7 FM KPFK (Southern CA); 89.7 WGBH, Boston; 91.5 FM WBEZ, Chicago; 94.9 KUOW, Seattle; 91.1 KRCB, North Bay (San Francisco); and in over 100 markets nationwide. “8” will be available for streaming on demand at www.latw.org beginning June 9. LATW’s entire catalog of plays is available on CD and via digital download on iTunes and Amazon

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski

9th Circuit Affirms Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

For those who missed the important news, I’m pleased to report that yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose … other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”

Read the full decision here.

Read the press release from Lambda Legal here.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski

Nationwide Productions of Dustin Lance Black’s “8”

I received the following announcement and thought you might be interested:

American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact Announce:

Nationwide Productions of Dustin Lance Black’s “8”
Play Shows World Why Marriage Equality Must Prevail

Forty College and Community Theatres Across the Country to Stage Readings in 2012

Los Angeles, CA – The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact are proud to announce a set of at least forty nationwide productions of “8,” a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black.

“8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the new critically-acclaimed film J. Edgar, based “8” on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” for free to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. Most productions will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.

“This play will continue to show Americans—one by one—that prejudice and fear cannot stand up to truth and justice,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “Try as they might, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 cannot hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. Until every citizen can equally enjoy the freedom to marry, AFER will continue to fight in the courts of law and the court of public opinion—and we will win.”

The story for “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the Proposition 8 supporters’ star witness, David Blankenhorn, that “we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

“People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” said Black. “I’ve built my career around exposing and uncovering ‘the real story.’ The goal of ‘8’ is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. We are doing all we can to help speed that process along.”

“8” is set to have its West Coast premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles, for an exclusive, one-night-only fundraiser to benefit AFER. The West Coast premiere will star Academy Award-winning actor, producer, screenwriter and director George Clooney and be directed by AFER Founding Board Member and acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner.

“8” had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City. The production brought in over one million dollars to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.

Proposition 8 was struck down by the Federal District Court in August 2010. That decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. AFER’s legal team was at the Ninth Circuit in December 2011 for a hearing to urge that court to unseal the trial video. The American public was not given a chance to witness the historic trial because the Proponents launched a desperate attempt to forever hide the video recording of the trial.

A ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the release of the trial video is expected soon. The Perry case is widely anticipated to end up in the United States Supreme Court.

“I was lucky enough to watch the initial closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco,” said Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O’Malley (Tony Award-nominee for The Book of Mormon). “We knew then and there that audiences needed to see and hear this story live, as we had done. ‘8’ builds on a successful tradition of documentary theatre—plays like The Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues, which inspire us with their combination of art and activism. We are thrilled to partner with AFER to bring this story to a national audience.”

READ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS EXCLUSIVE HERE: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/01/17/entertainment/e040748S31.DTL

VISIT THE OFFICIAL “8” WEBSITE HERE: www.8theplay.com/

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights
The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the Perry case. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and is now leading it through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals before the case is brought to the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.
www.AFER.org

About Broadway Impact
BROADWAY IMPACT is a non-profit organization of theatre artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality. Founded in 2008 by Tony Award-nominated performers Rory O’Malley (Book of Mormon), Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos, BROADWAY IMPACT works to educate and inspire the theatre community into action. Recent initiatives include helping to staff the phone banking efforts in New York State, creating a 3,000 piece letter writing campaign, gaining the funding for 1,400 supporters to attend the National Equality March and producing a rally for over 5,000 attendees in Midtown Manhattan where speakers included, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Governor David Paterson. BROADWAY IMPACT was awarded the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award.
www.BROADWAYIMPACT.com

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski