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Prop. 8 trial: Did animosity drive California's gay marriage ban?

Lawyers seeking to overturn Prop. 8, California's gay marriage ban, attempted to show Wednesday that the law is unconstitutional because it is the product of animosity toward gays and lesbians.

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Anti-gay marriage activists were acting out of animosity toward gays and lesbians when they pushed to pass Proposition 8, the state's ban on gay marriage, lawyers arguing against the law attempted to show Wednesday.

The animus, or animosity, argument is a key part of the federal lawsuit against Prop. 8, because the Supreme Court has ruled that animus against any group is not a constitutional basis for forming laws. That argument was the primary issue on Day 3 of the trial.

In his prepared opening remarks, Theodore Olson, one of the attorneys representing the two same-sex couples that are challenging Prop. 8, said: “Proposition 8, and the irrational pattern of California’s regulation of marriage which it promulgates, advances no legitimate state interest. All it does is label gay and lesbian persons as different, inferior, unequal, and disfavored.”

The argument intends to build on the Supreme Court ruling in Romer v. Evans, a 1996 case concerning a Colorado constitutional amendment denying gays and lesbians any special rights or protection under the law. The ruling held that the animus expressed toward a class of people in this case was unconstitutional because it lacked “a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.”

A winning argument?

This is only one of the legal strategies that Mr. Olson and his fellow attorneys are exploring during the three-week trial. They also claim that the ban denies gay and lesbian couples the right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

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