Five weeks ago Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told me she believed there was a 98 percent probability that the California Supreme Court would uphold Proposition 8, the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. “We’re going to lose,” Kendell said flatly during a visit to Dallas in late March.
Kendell’s dark prediction was newsworthy because she’s a veteran civil rights attorney who’s been closely involved with the case, given that NCLR is one of the plaintiffs. Her prediction also was in line with that of most other experts who’ve been watching the case.
But a lot can happen in five weeks.
Kendell wrote on her blog yesterday that recent victories for marriage equality in Iowa, Vermont and other states have resulted in a “sea change” of public opinion, as well as a shift in her own view about the Prop 8 decision. Kendell says she now believes the California Supreme Court will strike down Prop 8. The court’s decision is due any day now, with the justices facing a deadline of June 3.
“I have always believed the California Supreme Court should strike down Prop 8 because the law is so overwhelmingly on our side,” Kendell wrote yesterday. “But I feared that other factors might result in an adverse decision. That fear has now been replaced by hope as courts and legislatures â€” as well as public opinion â€” have moved sharply in our direction. The Court can cement its legacy by overturning Prop 8 and upholding our Constitutionâ€™s promise of equal protection. Or it can cause untold pain and hardship to our community and forever undermine the independence of the judiciary and the historic role of the courts in protecting minority rights.
“I believe the Court will do the right thing.”