The national president of America’s leading civil rights group has said banning gay marriage interferes with a “fundamental freedom.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) wrote to state House and Senate leaders in California asking them to pass House Resolution 5 and Senate Resolution 7 in support of the right of gay couples to marry.

“The NAACP’s mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law,” he said.

“Our Mission Statement calls for the ‘equality of rights of all persons.’

“Prop. 8 strips same-sex couples of a fundamental freedom, as defined by the California State Supreme Court.

“In so doing, it poses a serious threat to all Americans.

“Prop. 8 is a discriminatory, unprecedented change to the California Constitution that, if allowed to stand, would undermine the very purpose of a constitution and courts – assuring equal protection and opportunity for all and safeguarding minorities from the tyranny of the majority.”

Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote on election day, November 4th.

Since then gay marriages have been banned in the state.

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled against a previous Proposition approved in 2000 that defined marriage in the state as between a man and a woman.

The court ruled that laws that treat people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry as other Californians.

Proposition 8 challenged this ruling by explicitly denying gay people the right to marry.

18,000 same-sex couples got married before Prop 8 passed.

The California Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments on March 5th.

The NAACP is among the dozens of groups that have filed amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs arguing that Proposition 8 drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California‚Äôs Constitution, and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote.

SR 7, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 24th and will proceed to the full Senate for a vote shortly thereafter.

HR 5, also sponsored by EQCA, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on February 17th and is eligible for a vote before the full Assembly.