By Nan Hunter -With the now finally settled election of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris as California's next Attorney General, the risk is over that a state official would seek to reverse the refusal of the state to defend the constitutionality of Prop 8. The Republican candidate had promised that he would seek to intervene in the pending appeal in Perry v. Schwarzenegger to present the court with a formal defense of the law and, more importantly, to inject a defendant that unquestionably had standing to appeal. Because there will be no change in the state's position of declining to defend Prop 8, the standing question - whether the proponents of Prop 8 can properly appeal Judge Walker's ruling - will remain central to the outcome of the case.
Harris, a progressive Democrat, won one of the closest races in state history. FYI, here are excerpts from an interview with her published in 2009:
My family has a long history of civil service. My parents met when they were taking part in the civil rights movement in Berkeley, California. Growing up, I was therefore surrounded by people who were always passionately fighting for this thing called "justice." I was ultimately inspired to make my own contribution to this noble cause through public service. I went to public schools in Berkeley and then on to Howard University in Washington, DC where I decided to pursue a career in the law. After law school, instead of joining most of my friends and classmates at the big downtown firms, I decided to go to the Alameda County District Attorney's office - the same office once headed by the great Earl Warren. It was the best decision I ever made.
Who were your heroes growing up?
Apart from my mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who will always remain my greatest hero in life, my heroes growing up were the architects of the civil rights movement: the lawyers. People like Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley demonstrated to me that progressive social change could be successfully achieved in the courtroom.
I support marriage equality. It is a civil rights issue. I opposed Proposition 8 and the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold it was a sad day in California history. The court has allowed a ballot measure to strip rights away from Californians and fundamentally alter our constitution. But the fight for equality is not over. The history of the civil rights movement is a history of perseverance in the face of adversity. I wholeheartedly believe that equal marriage rights for all will soon be the law of the land.
What is your position on gay marriage? Do you feel that previous marriages that have already taken place should stay legal?
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