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Berkeley’s Defenders of Marriage

March 27, 2013

As Berkeley Law (Boalt) alum Theodore Olson stood before the United States Supreme Court yesterday challenging Proposition 8, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, we were reminded that while California may have left gays and lesbians feeling jilted at the altar, the Bay Area’s commitment to marriage equality has not wavered.

Berkeley was the first city in the nation to establish domestic partnerships in the 1970’s, Melissa Murray, professor at Berkeley (Boalt) Law School, explained to California yesterday.  And, she added, “In 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, strongly believing that the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 22 were unconstitutional, authorized the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

“That act set in motion the series of lawsuits that culminated in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which was argued in the United States Supreme Court today.”

She went on to detail UC Berkeley faculty contributions to cases involving the civil rights of LGBTQ citizens. “Faculty at the law school have drafted and signed amicus (friend of the court) briefs in the state-level and federal cases… And our efforts have not been limited to the high-profile lawsuits that we have seen over the last few years. We have also focused on quotidian policy issues that impact LGBTQ people throughout the state and country.”

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