By Lauren Foliart
City News Reporter
Met with a flood of community support at their Tuesday meeting, the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Nov. 18 to join the San Francisco lawsuit against Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Seeking to reverse the decision made by California voters on Nov. 4, San Francisco filed a lawsuit the following day on the grounds that Proposition 8 will alter the state constitution significantly enough that it needs approval by the Legislature.
Santa Cruz County is the seventh local government to sign the lawsuit, joining the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Santa Clara County.
Recognizing the 71 percent of Santa Cruz voters who opposed Proposition 8, District Supervisors Neal Coonerty and Mark Stone presented the action to the board at their weekly Tuesday meeting with hopes of reflecting the county’s position.
“I think the high percentage of city and county members that voted against the proposition reflects that they felt marriage equality is an important issue and that it should be upheld,” Coonerty said.
No one present at the Tuesday meeting spoke out against the decision to join the fight against Proposition 8.
Opponents of Proposition 8 are illuminating the issue of discrimination and the idea that the proposition eliminates constitutional rights of a group seen as a minority.
Although California voters approved Proposition 8 by 52 percent and, by law, the voice of the majority will have to be recognized, Coonerty emphasized the foundations of the California Constitution and its structure to provide protection for minorities.
“You can’t vote in discrimination — it’s not allowed in the constitution,” Coonerty said.
Recently, both supporters and opponents of the proposition have asked the courts to rule on it in order to finalize and add certainty to the changes that will be made.
“There is significant public interest in prompt resolution of the legality of Proposition 8,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown wrote in a brief to the California Supreme Court. “This court can provide certainty and finality in this matter.”
With an outcome that will affect both the state constitution and the rights of citizens, public concern continues to grow around how Proposition 8 will be carried out.
“We’re all under oath to uphold the constitution, and we have to protect our citizens,” Coonerty said at the board meeting.
The county’s decision to support the suit will not require any financial obligations, but will call for staff time and possible prioritization of the matter in future agendas.
While the court has a history of rejecting such challenges to constitutional amendments, citizens said it is their responsibility to do everything possible to make sure their voices are heard.
Santa Cruz residents made it clear they supported the board’s decision to join the Proposition 8 fight. Rallying for the Tuesday meeting and carrying signs, locals were ardent in expressing their views.
“It’s our time,” local resident Leslie Scanagatta said. “We can’t go backward now.”