SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Five civil rights groups asked California's highest court Friday to annul the state's new same-sex marriage ban on the grounds that Proposition 8 threatens the legal standing of all minority groups, not just gays.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, Asian Pacific American Legal Center and two other groups petitioned the state Supreme Court to issue a stay preventing the ballot initiative approved by voters last week from taking effect.
The petition is the fourth seeking to have the measure invalidated. But it's the first to argue that the court should step in because the gay marriage ban, which overturned the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay unions, sets a precedent that could be used to undermine the rights of racial minorities.
Eva Paterson, president of the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society, said the election raises the specter of voters deciding to bar illegal immigrants from public schools, disenfranchising black voters or otherwise using the ballot box to promote segregation.
"The court ruled that to discriminate in the area of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and violated our guaranteed equality," Paterson said. "Why should a slim majority of Californians be able to put discrimination back into the California Constitution?"
The Supreme Court has not yet indicated whether it will take up legal challenges to Proposition 8.
Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has said his office would argue to uphold the measure, is scheduled to reply to the four lawsuits on Monday.
Like the three petitions filed last week, the one submitted Friday argues that outlawing same-sex marriage after it had been recognized as a fundamental right by the court represents such a sweeping change that it first needed approval from the California Legislature.
Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the coalition of religious and social conservative groups that sponsored the initiative, characterized efforts to get the election results tossed out as "out there in left field."
"The petitioners are essentially saying the voters can change the constitution, just not the parts they like," Pugno said. "The people have an absolute right to change our Constitution, one that is limited only by the United States Constitution."