The federal trial over the unconstitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 began today with an opening statement by attorney Theodore Olson (United States Solicitor General under George W. Bush), who with David Boies (Mr. Olsen’s adversary in Bush v. Gore) is leading the legal team assembled by the American Foundation for Equal Rights to litigate the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
Posted below is Mr. Olson’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery.
This case is about marriage and equality. Plaintiffs are being denied both the right to marry, and the right to equality under the law.
The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;” a “basic civil right;” a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one’s self.
In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is “the most important relation in life,” and “of fundamental importance for all individuals.”
As the witnesses in this case will elaborate, marriage is central to life in America. It promotes mental, physical and emotional health and the economic strength and stability of those who enter into a marital union. It is the building block of family, neighborhood and community. The California Supreme Court has declared that the right to marry is of “central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society.”
Proposition 8 ended the dream of marriage, the most important relation in life, for the plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of Californians.
Continue reading »