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Presentation explores California laws surrounding same sex marriage

Posted: March 1, 2010 1:48 p.m.
Updated: March 1, 2010 5:00 p.m.

Nearly two years have passed since the California Supreme Court first ruled on the legality of same sex marriages.

Since then, everyone has heard the media reports and arguments both for and against same sex marriage play out in the streets and at the ballot box.

But do you really have a clear understanding of how the law views this hot-button issue?

Regardless of your personal feelings on the matter, how much do you really know about the history of marriage in California? Or how that history helped shape the Court's decision about same sex marriage?

Do you ever wonder what impact that decision, the subsequent passage of Proposition 8 and the string of legal challenges that have followed will mean for the future of Californians - both gay and straight?

Have you been looking for an academic discussion of the issue, without the controversial overtones and unbalanced viewpoints typically associated with such an event?

Providing a balanced overview and academic discussion about same sex marriage in California - from the state's history regarding marriage to the current legal battle raging in the courts -the College of the Canyons scholarly presentation "Til Death Do Us Part: A Legal Perspective of Same Sex Marriage in the Golden State" will take place at 7 p.m., Wednesday April 21, on the main stage of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) at COC.

Based on study and in-depth examination of the California Supreme Court's decision and dissenting opinions about the case In Re Marriages, as well as historical research on the evolutional of marriage in the state, the scholarly presentation by College of the Canyons Paralegal Studies department chair Nicole Lucy and Los Angeles attorney Gary Collis will also address the legal future of this issue.

"Same sex marriage can be a very personal and emotional issue for many people," said Lucy. "However, this presentation isn't going to be a debate about the pros and cons of same sex marriage or which side is better.

"Instead, this will be an examination of how and why the law does what it does, and more importantly, what that means for us as a society," added Lucy.

During the presentation, Lucy and Collis will provide audience members with a background about marriage in California, including the state's amendment of the definition of marriage in 1977, the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000 to amend language in the state's Family Code regarding marriage and the history and evolution of domestic partnerships for same sex couples.

The presentation will also discuss the series of legal challenges that have questioned the constitutionality of limiting marriage to only opposite sex couples - with the bulk of the discussion focusing on the 2008 California Supreme Court case In Re Marriages.

Finally, the presentation will address the California voters' passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, the subsequent string of court cases that have challenged that initiative and what the legal future may hold for same sex marriage in the state.

"The process of coming to a decision in a court of law is much different than what people do at the dinner table," Collis said. "Attending this presentation will help people understand what the Court considers before handing down a decision - especially in a case as important to our society as this one has been, and continues to be."

Lucy came to College of the Canyons in 2007 as the first full-time faculty member and chair of the college's Paralegal Studies department. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Science Education from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University.

Before arriving at College of the Canyons Lucy worked as a civil litigator for 10 years and was admitted to practice in both California and United States trial courts. Her practice area included complex environmental litigation, personal injury and premises liability and class action professional liability.

Collis holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University, and has litigated a variety of cases in both California and federal trial and appellate courts.

Since 2006, Collis has worked as Senior Counsel at Gordon & Rees, LLP, in downtown Los Angeles. His practice area currently focuses on franchise litigation and business disputes.

The scholarly presentation "Til Death Do Us Part: A Legal Perspective of Same Sex Marriage in the Golden State" is being presented by the College of the Canyons Foundation.

Admission to the scholarly presentation is free, however seating may be limited and guests are encouraged to RSVP. A pre-presentation reception sponsored by the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees will be held in the PAC lobby beginning at 6 p.m.



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