The history of California’s Proposition 8, women’s rights in America today and the current composition of the Supreme Court, are among the topics we spoke about in our latest conversation with CYInterview regular, powerhouse attorney and TV judge of We The People Gloria Allred.
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After a ruling last month declaring the banning of same gender marriage unconstitutional, Gloria takes us through the entire history of Proposition 8 and tells us what is ahead:
“It’s interesting because Prop 8 of course was the proposition passed by majority of people in California who voted and which once again banned same gender marriage in California. In other words, it prohibited marriage equality. And that came after we won a victory where we were able to strike down Prop 22 which was essentially the same language as Prop 8 and the court found that was unconstitutional in California to deny the right to marry to same gender couples. So that a result of our case, 18,000 couples were able to marry, but then Prop 8 was passed banning it and so then the second time the California Supreme Court, they upheld Prop 8 and so marriages stopped.
Then came the federal case challenging Prop 8 and that’s been winding its way through the courts, the lower court, Judge Walker found that it was unconstitutional under the United States Constitution, a denial of equal protection due process. That was appealed by the Prop 8 supporters, the proponents of Prop 8 to the ninth circuit United States Court of Appeals which just decided last week to affirm the lower court decision. In other words, to say that, ‘Yes. It is unconstitutional.’
And essentially what they said was it’s unconstitutional to pass an initiative like Prop 8, a proposition which takes away rights from a minority that had been afforded privilege previously which is what happened in California. Something like what happened in Colorado years ago where they were, took away, you know, where they took away from cities the right to prohibit discrimination against persons who were gay and lesbian.
In any event, the most recent thing is, there’s an interesting article in the LA Times today that now the Prop 8 supporters, proponents are considering asking the entire United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, that’s 11 judges to accept the rehearing of this case, en banc, as it’s called where, but it’s gonna take a majority of all the judges to decide that they want to rehear what the United States Court of Appeals did. They may decide they’re not gonna grant a rehearing. Then the next stop is to, for the Prop 8 supporters to seek the United States Supreme Court review of this matter which they may or may not accept, but probably will and that is where ultimately this case is going to be decided.”
With the current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, what does Gloria Allred think about the Prop 8 case being heard by them?
“I was less optimistic before the ninth circuit ruled because I was worried about it going to the United States Supreme Court. However, the way the ninth circuit decision is crafted, written, it’s very, very narrow. It only really applies to California, doesn’t apply to all the other western states in the United States which ninth circuit decisions usually do apply to all the rest of the states. Technically it does apply, but it really only applies where there has been a right afforded and then that right was taken away. That only happened in California. If it would’ve happened in any of the other western states, it would apply. But it hasn’t happened anywhere else. So given that it will only apply in California, the justices of the United States Supreme Court may say, ‘Ok. Fine. We’ll let it stand for California.’”
Gloria says she is more concerned about women’s rights/equal rights than ever before:
“Yes. Especially with the current Republican debate about birth control and health plans that somehow they want kowtow to you know to those who would want to limit birth control access in terms of health plan coverage. They would not want to require employers as part of their health plan coverage to cover birth control, not pills or contraceptives. That’s really important not only for the obvious reasons that you know, so many women do use birth control. But also to prevent birth or that is contraception to conceive, but for another reason, which is about half of all the people who use birth control pills are using it for a different reason, a medical reason to treat cysts for example or other reproductive health issues that women have.
Nothing to do with trying to prevent getting pregnant and I spoke with a woman today who had that same problem and you know that, so a lot of Catholic employers do in fact hire people who are not Catholic and they should be able to have a health plan which covers birth control contraceptives. It’s not cheap. It may be cheap for their millionaire, multimillionaire Republicans who think that it’s cheap to buy birth control. But you know they’re a lot of poor people in this country or working poor who just can’t afford it and to deny them the health coverage for the contraceptives I just think is wrong.”
On the subject of women’s rights and equality, given the current composition of the United States Supreme Court, Gloria explains why it’s very important President Obama gets reelected:
“I think it’s very important. It’s very important because, of course, he will have the opportunity to appoint justices to any vacancies on the Supreme Court of which there may very well be some in the next term. He’s had an opportunity to appoint. He’s done a great job. Justice Sotomayor, Justice Kagan, excellent choices. But you know, they’re gonna be more vacancies and this really can have a huge impact on the law. So yes, it’s important and I think there’s gonna be a stark contrast between President Obama and any one of the Republicans who ultimately is nominated.”
Last year, Ms. Allred participated in a CYInterview [see here] about civil rights, as well as the need to have compassion for people who do not have things many of us take for granted. The outspoken attorney agrees with my colleague Jay Bildstein’s proposal that our political leaders take a cut to their own salaries in order to lead by example during a time calling for collective sacrifice. She liked the idea of those salary cuts being made before making cuts that would impact the rest of us, particularly the impoverished and less fortunate:
“Well, I like that idea a lot. I think it’s a great concept…You see people who are elected following the money, the money that got them elected. They’re gonna be accountable to their special interest money that they have received and it’s the people who have donated to their campaign and what they represent and what they want. In a way they’re proxies. They should be a proxy for the people of the entire district or state that they represent, but instead they seem to be more interested in making sure that the flow of their campaign dollars continues and so they’ll vote the way that those who contribute pretty much want so that they can stay in office because once they’re in office, I think their main goal is just to stay in office or to seek higher office.”
Recently, pop music superstar Rihanna released two songs which she collaborated on with former boyfriend Chris Brown. Many will recall that Mr. Brown physically assaulted her in 2009, on the night of the Grammys. Gloria believes the pair should donate all the money made on this project to a battered woman’s shelter:
“It’s a unique situation where we have two people who are involved in a highly covered, high profile situation involving violence against Rihanna who was the victim now seeking to profit off of that coverage by doing something together. This is, it’s pretty, I think it’s horrible. I think they should donate all their profits to a battered woman’s shelter, which I doubt that they will do. In addition, I do think it sends a bad message and I’m concerned about her.
Maybe this is just professional singing, but you know, if they get back together, I don’t really see information that says that he’s completely changed, that he doesn’t have an anger management problem anymore. In fact to the contrary, given a very strong and belligerent email that he sent to people who criticize the Grammys for giving him a Grammy and you know was a very, very harsh email that he sent out. It sounds as though maybe he still has a lot more to do in terms of working on anger management issues. And we all remember her face full of bruises from him after that incident in question. And you know I’m concerned about her safety or about the safety of any other woman who might be in contact with him and who might be in an intimate relationship with him.”
When it comes to a woman returning to a man who has abused them in the past, Attorney Allred says it’s very common for the woman to go back and to suffer physical abuse again:
“It’s very common for them to go back and it’s very common to be abused all over again because nothing changes in his, you know, if he doesn’t get help and even then I’m not sure that it is really effective. He’s just gonna continue the cycle of violence which is essentially sweet talking her, giving her gifts and flowers and then ultimately taking control again and then battering her because he doesn’t like what she said or did and then you know, then begging her forgiveness and starting the cycle all over again. Nothing changes except that usually the battery gets more intense over time, more severe and more frequent.”
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