AG: Prop 8 not retroactive
by Seth Hemmelgarn
California Attorney General Jerry Brown has indicated he thinks that same-sex couples who have married since June 16 would not be affected by the passage of Proposition 8, should voters approve the constitutional amendment in November.
A document filed in Sacramento Superior Court this week states that Brown disagrees with the notion that "Proposition 8 would affect the recognition of marriages already entered into by same-sex couples."
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Brown as saying, "I believe that marriages that have been entered into subsequent to the Supreme Court opinion will be recognized by the California Supreme Court."
Shannon Minter, who as legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights successfully argued for same-sex couples' right to marry in the recent state Supreme Court case, told the Bay Area Reporter, "We're very pleased that the attorney general has taken the position and agreed with us that Prop 8 would not affect the validity of existing marriages. I think it will be defeated in November, but if it's not we certainly want to protect the marriages that have already taken place."
It is also noted in the court filing that such effects "are not directly addressed in the 14-word text of Proposition 8, and the attorney general cannot be required to predict in his title and summary how courts would interpret the initiative if it were to pass."
Last month, Brown's office changed the title and summary of Prop 8. Previously it had been titled "Limit on marriage." Now the title reads, "Eliminates rights of same-sex couples to marry."
The summary now begins, "Changes California constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry," and then says, "Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Anti-gay backers of Prop 8 filed suit against Brown in Sacramento Superior Court, in part, because "the ballot title and summary prepared by the attorney general differs radically from the circulating title and summary, swapping 'Limit on marriage' with 'Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry,' so as to be extremely argumentative and create prejudice against the measure," according to their petition.
A hearing involving lawsuits filed over the ballot language is set for today (Thursday, August 7).
Prop 8 opponents have filed suit over ballot arguments by supporters involving the potential impact on what is taught in schools, as well as supporters' argument that domestic partners and married couples are already treated equally.