Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Associated Press: Gay legal groups want in on Calif court case

this is not good

The Associated Press: Gay legal groups want in on Calif court case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Three gay-friendly legal groups have asked to be part of a federal lawsuit challenging California's same-sex marriage ban — a request that drew an icy reception from the activists behind the case.

After publicly questioning the wisdom of the suit and then submitting papers in support of it, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights said they want to represent gay community groups in the proceedings.

The three legal organizations are the same ones that have long led the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's national marriage director, said their full participation is vital now that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has put the Proposition 8 challenge on a fast-track to trial.

"We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity," Pizer said.

But the newly formed political group funding the case, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, is opposing the request. The foundation scored a public relations coup when it persuaded the high-profile lawyers who squared off over the disputed 2000 presidential election to take on the lawsuit.

In a letter to the legal groups sent Wednesday, board president Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles-based political consultant, said the show of solidarity was coming too late since the same groups originally criticized a federal civil rights claim as premature.

"You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening," Griffin said. "Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene."

Getting more lawyers involved also would delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceedings, Griffin wrote. He said the public interest groups were welcome to continue participating as consultants.

Pizer said it was unclear when Walker would rule on the motion naming the three community groups — one representing gay families, another representing gay seniors and third representing parents with gay children — as parties to the case.

Wednesday's sikrmish is the latest fallout from Proposition 8's passage, which set off disagreements within the gay rights movement over who was to blame and what strategy would be best for reversing the measure.

No comments: