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A federal case challenging California’s discriminatory ballot measure, Prop 8, which eliminated same-sex couples’ right to marry in that state.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now known as Hollingsworth v. Perry) was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in May 2009, asking for a preliminary order blocking Prop 8. When California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to defend Prop 8 substantively, Judge Vaughn R. Walker allowed the initiative’s proponents to enter the case to defend it. Lambda Legal, NCLR and ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the preliminary hearing complementing plaintiffs’ briefing by explaining why Prop 8 should be held invalid regardless of the level of constitutional review.

At the preliminary injunction hearing Judge Vaughn R. Walker requested evidence on numerous important issues. After party counsel expressed a preference for a decision based only on legal arguments, Lambda Legal and co-counsel asked to intervene on behalf of three LGBT community organizations to present evidence of the diverse harms of marriage discrimination and expert testimony about antigay discrimination generally. After party counsel and the City and County of San Francisco offered to present similarly comprehensive evidence, Judge Walker denied the LGBT community groups’ intervention request. Lambda Legal and co-counsel continued to assist with trial preparation behind the scenes and as amicus.