Courage Campaign: ruling "an historic milestone for loving families and our nation as a whole."
LOS ANGELES -- In a landmark ruling released minutes ago in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has found that California's ban on marriage equality -- also known as Proposition 8 -- violates the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"This ruling is an historic milestone for millions of loving families, for all who have fought to realize the dream of equality under the law, and for our nation as a whole," said Courage Campaign Founder and Chairman Rick Jacobs. "While today concludes the first step in a legal process that could take up to two years, Judge Walker's ruling is a landmark victory in America's centuries long war against discrimination, and the result of months of extraordinary work by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, and courageous plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo."
Judge Walker's ruling follows a contentious battle over public access to the trial, two weeks of testimony back in January, defense motions to strike Prop. 8 campaign documents and its own witnesses from the official trial record, and five hours of closing arguments in June.
Together with CREDO Action, the Courage Campaign led efforts to get the Prop. 8 Trial televised -- mobilizing 140,000 signatures in just three days after Judge Walker called for public comment on the issue.
After the defense successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to block the order to televise the trial, the Courage Campaign launched prop8trialtracker.com: a live chronicle of the trial proceedings and testimony that Courage Campaign Founder Rick Jacobs -- who attended every day of the trial -- produced from within Judge Walker's courtroom. The Prop 8 Trial Tracker has now been viewed more than 2.5 million times, generated more than 43,000 comments, and spawned the NOM Tour Tracker -- a chronicle of videos, interviews, photos and first hand reporting on the Summer Tour of one of the Proposition 8's biggest financial backers, the secretive National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
"History has already taught us that the biggest challenge for the cause of equality exists not just in courtrooms, but in the hearts and minds of the American people," Jacobs added. "That's why the public must hear the testimony presented in Judge Walker's courtroom and that of the millions of loving LGBT families who have come to understand the destructive power of discrimination first-hand. It is clear that when presented with the truth about the millions of families who will be impacted by this decision, most Americans do not support the debunked myths and toxic rhetoric spewed by intolerant fringe groups like NOM."
In collaboration with legendary LGBT activist Cleve Jones, the 700,000 member Courage Campaign's educational arm, the Courage Campaign Institute, has also launched an unprecedented national public education campaign aimed at bridging the already narrowing gap between public policy and public opinion on LGBT equality issues. Called Testimony: Equality on Trial, the multi-year campaign will help activists create, film and upload public trial re-enactments and their own trial depositions on a central clearinghouse website,www.equalityontrial.org.
"Defense attorney Charles Cooper spoke volumes when he declared 'I have no evidence' to support second class citizenship for millions of American families during his closing argument in Judge Walker's courtroom. He's been proven right, and Equalityontrial.org is designed to collect the overwhelming evidence -- the stories of the millions of families who live the fight against discrimination every day, and to present them to the leaders and everyday people who may be altogether unfamiliar with these experiences, but on whom the principles of equality under the law must ultimately be applied."
Courage Campaign Equality is a part of the Courage Campaign's multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. For more information on "Testimony: Equality on Trial" -- our year-long campaign to bring the Prop 8 trial into the lives of Americans -- visithttp://www.EqualityOnTrial.org. For more information on the Prop. 8 Trial, visit our Prop 8 Trial Tracker blog at http://prop8trialtracker.com. Learn more about our summer-long campaign to hold secretive Prop. 8 financier, the National Organization for Marriage, accountable for its lies and divisive rhetoric about LGBT families at www.nomtourtracker.com.
Rick Jacobs is the founder and chair of the Courage Campaign. He chaired Howard Dean's presidential campaign in California. He is also the co-founder of Brave New Films and a featured contributor to Arianna Huffington's Huffingtonpost.com. Rick has an extensive background as an international investor and senior executive. An openly gay man, Jacobs attended every day of the historic Prop. 8 Federal Trial in January 2010, liveblogging directly from U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's courtroom to the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, garnering more than 2.5 million page views and 43,000 comments from across America.
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