California's constitutional gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, was poised to pass as of Wednesday afternoon. As votes were still being counted, however, the California Supreme Court had already been petitioned to hear a legal challenge to the initiative.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of Equality California and six unmarried and possibly deprived same-sex couples. The plaintiffs urge the court to invalidate Proposition 8 on the grounds that the initiative process itself violated California's Constitution in aiming to prevent the judiciary from its duty to uphold equal protections for a minority: gays and lesbians. Any measure that changes the underlying principles of the Constitution, the plaintiffs charge, must first be approved by the state legislature before reaching a voter's ballot.
"A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities," said ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.