Ruling on California Proposition 8 Cases allows a bare majority of voters to enshrine inequality into our constitution and to deprive an entire class of Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.

(Tuesday, May 26, 2009) – The California Supreme Court today ruled in a 6 to 1 decision that the initiative process in California can be used to strip away fundamental rights from a minority group that has historically been subject to discrimination.

API Equality and API Equality–LA, two organizations that have worked single-mindedly to build public support for same-sex marriage in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities since 2004, are severely disappoint e d that the Supreme Court will uphold a proposition revoking marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

“We are extremely saddened that the Court saw it fit to take away rights from a minority group,” said Khanh Nguyen, a staff attorney at API Legal Outreach, “Essentially, the court has set forth a dangerous precedent where a simple majority vote is enough to exclude a minority group from equal protection under the state constitution.”

“As Asian and Pacific Islanders, we are no strangers to the perils of selective justice,” stated Tawal Panyacosit, Director of API Equality. “From bans on immigration and interracial marriage, our community has often been the victim of such discrimination. We cannot stand silent as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members of our communities come under fire from the same sort of prejudice that has so often hurt our families.”

According to the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank based at UCLA, there are approximately 66,000 LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders living in California—the largest in the nation. With the court’s decision to uphold Prop 8, the fundamental right to marry is no longer a right afforded to them.
Fortunately, the Court has chosen to maintain the marriage status of the 18,000 couples who married during the short period that same-sex marriage was legal.

“While today’s decision is heartbreaking,” uttered Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, “We are confident that public opinion trends are on our side. Just look at what happened in Iowa, Vermont, Maine and DC. In due time, justice will be served.”

Whereas a little over ten years ago, only a handful of API organizations were visibly and vocally supportive of same-sex couples right to marry, among the first was the Japanese American Citizen’s League. Today, through API Equality – LA and API Equality’s efforts, more than 60 API organizations and our leading API elected officials and community leaders have come on record in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples via an amicus brief supporting last year’s In Re Marriage Cases and more recently in public endorsements opposing Proposition 8.

Bilingual attorneys and API LGBT couples are available for interviews in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Korean, and Vietnamese.