Candidates vying to be California's
next attorney general hold opposing views on whether the state should
defend its gay marriage ban.
In an email Monday to Equality
California (EQCA) members, Democratic nominee Kamala Harris promised
to “never defend the anti-LGBT Proposition 8 in federal court.”
Harris has the endorsement of EQCA, the state's largest gay rights
California Attorney General – and
gubernatorial candidate – Jerry Brown has refused to defend the law
in court. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, backed him
on that decision.
Proposition 8 was ruled
unconstitutional by a federal judge on Wednesday. In his ruling,
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker briefly mentioned the case's
reliance on a third party to defend the law, but it was not clear
whether the government's actions influenced his decision.
GOP nominee Steve Cooley said Wednesday
that he would defend the gay marriage ban in court because the
“proper role of an attorney general is to enforce and defend the
will of the people as manifested through the initiative or
“Today's decision by a federal judge
overturning Proposition 8 should be appealed and tested at a higher
level of our legal system,” Cooley said in a statement. “The
California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 by a 6 to 1 vote and
declared it to be constitutional. Likewise, if the voters had
approved an initiative legalizing same-sex marriage and a federal
judge had ruled against it, I would also support an appeal of that
Saying that Cooley either “does not
understand the law or he is deliberately misleading people about its
content,” Tobias Wolff, a University of Pennsylvania Law School
Professor, disagreed with the Los Angeles County district attorney.
“In that first round of legal
challenges to Proposition 8, the California Supreme Court did not
rule on the constitutionality of Prop 8 under any provision of the
U.S. Constitution. It was asked to decide only one question —
whether state law permits a ballot initiative to be used in putting
the fundamental rights of a protected minority up for popular vote,”
told the Courage Campaign, a gay rights group that has been closely
monitoring the case.
Polls released in recent weeks show
Cooley with a narrow lead over Harris.