The California Supreme Court's reentry into the Prop 8 war satisfied almost everybody. Yes on 8 and its supporters figure that the three new court cases, which challenge the legality of a same-sex marriage amendment to the state constitution, don't stand a chance. No on 8 and it supporters are glad they won't have to wait long for the cases to be heard.
But one little-noticed decision by the court to reject the efforts of a non-profit group, the Campaign for California Families (CCF), to become a named party in the lawsuits highlights a rift among those in favor of traditional marriage.
The Campaign for California Families (CCF), a non-profit, "pro-family" organization, has been a player in the gay marriage debate from the beginning. In 2000, CCF worked to help pass Prop 22, which prevented California from recognizing same-sex marriages. In 2004, CCF was a named party in the lawsuit that put the kibosh on Gavin Newsom's inital efforts to allow gay marriage in San Francisco. (That suit ended with the voiding of nearly 4,000 marriages). After the California Supreme Court ruled in May that Prop 22 violated the state constitution, CCF pitched in to help create Prop 8, but was dissatisfied with the final result, arguing it didn't go far enough.
But eventually, says Mathew Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and CCF's hired attorney, CCF threw its support behind Prop 8 and hoped to be part of defending it before the high court. The Yes on 8 Campaign had no interest in the help, and its attorney Andrew Pugno explained this in a letter to the court.
"CCF is not the official campaign committee for Proposition 8, nor does it have any relationship with the Official Proponents of Proposition 8," Pugno wrote. He called CCF "merely an issues advocacy group" with interests indistinguishable from tens of millions of Californians who supported Prop 8.
Additionally, Yes on 8 sent a mass email on Wednesday accusing outside groups of claiming to represent Yes on 8 for fundraising and publicity purposes. Then the campaign criticized CCF's attempts to become a named party in the lawsuit. "Campaign for California Families...actually campaigned against Proposition 8 until a short time before the election," the email read. "Since we are the only organization representing the official proponents and the campaign committee that was responsible for passing Prop 8, allowing outside groups to participate in the defense of Prop 8 will only harm our chances of success."
The court agreed with Yes on 8, which for CCF means that they will be able to submit written arguments in the cases, but provide no oral argument. Staver refused to guess at Yes on 8's intentions in blocking CCF as a named party, but said they share the same ultimate goal: "to defend and support Proposition 8."