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Daily News Group

 

November 19, 2008

 

BY SHAUN BISHOP - DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

 

 

San Mateo Co. joins suit against Prop 8

 

 

San Mateo County on Tuesday added its name to the lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 ballot measure that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.

 

“This is a civil rights matter,” Board President Adrienne Tissier said in a state­ment. “The state Supreme Court found that the ability to marry is a fundamental right for all Californians, because all Cali­fornians have a right to be treated equally under the law. This Board has a responsi­bility to act to prevent discrimination from being written into our state constitution.”

 

The supervisors’ unanimous vote in closed session made San Mateo County the fifth government agency to sign onto the lawsuit opposing Proposition 8. The others are the city and county of San Fran­cisco, the city of Los Angeles, Los Ange­les County and Santa Clara County.


Proposition 8, which changes the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, passed statewide with 52.2 percent in favor, according to unofficial results.

 

But it failed in San Mateo County, with 61.8 percent of voters opposed.

 

The lawsuit argues that the state consti­tution’s equal protection provisions do not allow “a bare majority of voters to use the amendment process to divest politically disfavored groups of their constitutional rights.” The suit argues that such a sweep­ing change would require a constitutional revision instead of an amendment.

 

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said San Mateo County’s decision to join the suit “brings another important ally to the defense of our constitution’s core principles.”

 

“If allowed to stand, Prop. 8 so evis­cerates the principle of equal protection that it endangers the fundamental rights of any potential electoral minority even for protected classes based on race, religion, national origin and gender,” Herrera said in a statement.


San Mateo County Counsel Michael Murphy said his office is ready to assist if necessary but said most of the legal argu­ments have already been developed.

E-mail Shaun Bishop at sbishop@dailynewsgroup.com.