Same-sex marriage remains a rapidly-changing area of family law in California and the rest of the country and California is again shaking things up. A federal appeals court has declared California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, paving the way for a likely U.S. Supreme Court showdown
on the voter-approved law.
This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8
was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling.
Nevertheless, those who advocate for gay marriage already found reason enough to celebrate. Dozens of same-sex couples gathered outside of City Hall in San Francisco following the ruling to commemorate what lawyers called a milestone for human rights.
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion
. “The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort’.”
“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling stated.
Even so, the decision did not go so far as to determine that gay marriage is a fundamental right that cannot be infringed upon by any state law. Instead, the ruling stuck narrowly to the legality of Proposition 8. This makes it likely that gay marriages will remain on hold in California until the appeals process ends. The court made clear in Tuesday’s ruling that proponents of the ballot measure have the right to appeal a decision regarding that measure in court.
As we have previously discussed
, Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November of 2008, making same-sex marriage illegal in the state. Soon after, two same-sex couples challenged the measure in federal court and it was struck down in 2010 by a federal judge in San Francisco. In response, opponents of same-sex marriage filed an appeal with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which again struck down Proposition 8 on Tuesday. Now the same-sex marriage opponents have the option to appeal to a larger panel of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court.Sources and Related articles