Perry v. Schwarzenegger/3:Plaintiffs' Case Against Proposition 8


The Due Process Clause provides that no "State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." US Const Amend XIV, § 1. Plaintiffs contend that the freedom to marry the person of one's choice is a fundamental right protected by the Due Process Clause and that Proposition 8 violates this fundamental right because:

  1. It prevents each plaintiff from marrying the person of his or her choice;
  2. The choice of a marriage partner is sheltered by the Fourteenth Amendment from the state's unwarranted usurpation of that choice; and
  3. California's provision of a domestic partnership—a status giving same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of marriage without providing marriage—does not afford plaintiffs an adequate substitute for marriage and, by disabling plaintiffs from marrying the person of their choice, invidiously discriminates, without justification, against plaintiffs and others who seek to marry a person of the same sex.

The Equal Protection Clause provides that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." US Const Amend XIV, § 1. According to plaintiffs, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause because it:

  1. Discriminates against gay men and lesbians by denying them a right to marry the person of their choice whereas heterosexual men and women may do so freely; and
  2. Disadvantages a suspect class in preventing only gay men and lesbians, not heterosexuals, from marrying.

Plaintiffs argue that Proposition 8 should be subjected to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause because gays [p. 6] and lesbians constitute a suspect class. Plaintiffs further contend that Proposition 8 is irrational because it singles out gays and lesbians for unequal treatment, as they and they alone may not marry the person of their choice. Plaintiffs argue that Proposition 8 discriminates against gays and lesbians on the basis of both sexual orientation and sex.

Plaintiffs conclude that because Proposition 8 is enforced by state officials acting under color of state law and because it has the effects plaintiffs assert, Proposition 8 is actionable under 42 USC § 1983. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Proposition 8 is invalid and an injunction against its enforcement.