California’s Imperial County to appeal Proposition 8

by Lori Arnold


EL CENTRO, Calif. — The county of Imperial, in California’s most southeastern corner, will file an appeal seeking to intervene on behalf of Proposition 8 as it makes its way through the federal court system.

Nearly 70 percent of voters from Imperial County approved Proposition 8—which defines marriage as between one man and one woman—during the November 2008 election.

County officials are seeking intervener status so that they can appeal the Aug. 4 ruling by San Francisco Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker, which overturned Proposition 8.

In filing the appeal, county representatives said they were committed to preserving democratic principles and rebuffing arguments that disregard the fundamental right to vote.

“By the people, for the people and of the people,” said County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber. “Democratic principles are at stake and it is important for governmental representatives to defend the interests of the people who elected them.” 

The county will be represented in court by Murrieta-based Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

“We will fight hard on behalf of the voters of this state to ensure that their votes on this initiative, and future initiatives, are respected by the judiciary,” said Robert Tyler, general counsel and founder of the non-profit religious rights legal association.   

Tyler said his clients decided to file an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after Walker denied them standing in the case. Standing is a legal term meaning a party has a vested stake or interest in the outcome of the case. The attorney went on to say that it’s imperative the county is allowed to intervene in the case since the plaintiffs have argued that Protect Marriage and the official proponents of Proposition 8 lack standing to move the case forward. Tyler said the county will also appeal Walker’s Proposition 8 ruling concurrently.

If granted standing, the county officials plan to challenge Walker’s rationale for overturning the voter-approved law.

“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians… [b]ecause Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

Jennifer Monk, the associate general counsel for Advocates of Faith and Freedom, vehemently disagreed with Walker’s finding.

“California voters absolutely have the right to vote pursuant to their religious and moral beliefs,” she said. “Judge Walker’s determination that Proposition 8 lacked a rational basis is contrary to both well-established precedent and democratic principles.”

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Published, August 2010

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