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Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional

A historic court decision affirms the right of gays and lesbians to marry in California. Opponents vow to appeal the ruling.

Supporters of same-sex marriage in the Southland and across the state scored a major victory today when a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex weddings, was unconstitutional.

The 2-1 decision, however, will likely be appealed to either the full 9th Circuit Court or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite the ruling, a stay on gay marriages in California will remain in effect while the court case continues.

But that didn't temper the elated reactions from supporters of same-sex unions.

``It gives Californians the respect that they should be getting,'' said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man to serve on the body. ``We don't have our basic civil and human rights in our relationships. We don't get the IRS benefits. We don't get Social Security benefits. We don't have any of those benefits that are codified in Washington.''

Lorrie L. Jean, chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said, ``We are one step closer to the day the freedom to marry will ring in California once again.

``This draws nearer the day when every American will be able to marry the person they love, regardless of gender -- and to have that important commitment recognized by the law of the land,'' she said. ``Having that
commitment honored is no small thing.''

According to the court panel's ruling, the proposition's primary impact was to ``lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.''

``It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain and use the designation of `marriage' to describe their relationships,'' according to the court's decision. ``Nothing more, nothing less. Proposition 8 therefore could not have been enacted to advance California's interests in child-rearing or responsible procreation, for it had no effect on the rights of same-sex couples to raise children or on the procreative practices of other couples.

``Nor did Proposition 8 have any effect on religious freedom or on parents' rights to control their children's education; it could not have been enacted to safeguard those liberties.''

Opponents of same-sex marriage were equally strong in their words condemning the ruling.

Proposition 8 supporter Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, blasted the ruling, calling it ``unfair to the voters, against our republic, against our democratic system...''

``It's illogical and unconstitutional to claim that natural, unchangeable race and ethnicity is the same as sexual behavior,'' he said. ``That's not fair or true. Race and ethnicity are inherited, but science has never found homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality to be inherited or unchangeable.''

The case had been pending before the appellate court for months, including a delay while it awaited a ruling from the state Supreme Court on whether proponents of Proposition 8 had legal standing to appeal the issue. The Supreme Court eventually said they do.

In March 2000, California voters approved Prop. 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May of 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.

Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Prop. 8 on the November 2008
ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5
percent to 47.5 percent. The approval was followed by statewide protests and
lawsuits challenging Prop. 8's legality.

In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8, but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 would
remain valid.

Same-sex marriage supporters took their case to federal court, and U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that Proposition 8 ``both
unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and
creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.''

Backers of Proposition 8 -- ProtectMarriage.com -- appealed to the 9th Circuit, because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to do so. The appellate court heard arguments last year, but put a decision on hold while it awaited the state Supreme Court's ruling on the ability of Prop. 8 backers to press the case forward.

Once the state Supreme Court decided that Prop. 8 supporters had legal standing, the 9th Circuit moved ahead with its consideration of the case, hearing more arguments in December on a motion by Prop. 8 backers asking that Vaughn's ruling be thrown out because the judge was in a long-term same-sex
relationship that he had not disclosed.

Ron Prentice, executive director of ProtectMarriage.com, said the issue would definitely be appealed, but a decision had not yet been made on whether to ask the full 9th Circuit court to hear the case or go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

``We're not surprised by this decision, and expected a 2-1 decision and the interpretation of the equal-protection clause is what's at root here, as well as whether marriage should be defined according to the wishes of two people or whether it should be defined in terms of its purpose and definition for society and future generations,'' Prentice told KNX Newsradio.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement saying the court ``has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry. I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision.''

-City News Service

Tell us what you think in the comments. Did the court make the right call?

Rob February 07, 2012 at 08:07 PM
The seeds for this day could be seen coming the day that government invaded what had been the province of religion. Since the dawn of religion, it was up to the religious community to marry and under what conditions. Marriage was largely of religious and in that context carried social significance. And indeed, some faith traditions allow same sex marriage. When government got involved, first with blood tests, and age limits, and tax ramifications, the issue became clouded. Like so many other things, the answer here does not lie with government. Had government stayed out of marriage entirely, this would not be an issue. Indeed, if government now focuses more on the benefits and tax and estate planning considerations rather than the social cohabitation considerations, we'd all be further ahead. So much comes down to simply less government and more freedom.
Pam Sunderman February 07, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Except when you need it...when you are old, or poor, or ill, or being cheated or taken advantage of by a business with no ethics. Except when you want all of the people to have the same opportunities for education, fair pay for the same work, medical advances with no profit opportunities, or legal rights. Sadly people will not always police themselves or be able to take care of themselves.
Nancy Wride (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Someone I know says expecting Wall Street to police itself (which the feds did a couple years ago) is like expecting a football player to call himself out of bounds for the big touchdown. Unlikely.
Pete February 07, 2012 at 09:30 PM
"The approval was followed by statewide protests and lawsuits challenging Prop. 8's legality." Oh, is the author referring to the temper tantrum the gay community threw for 3 days straight that led to violence and destruction of property?
Shripathi Kamath February 07, 2012 at 09:33 PM
It is not uncommon for people stripped of basic rights to throw a temper tantrum, or a violent fit, and incidentally you need to figure out which it was.
Shripathi Kamath February 07, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Here's an interesting analysis: http://lat.ms/w9VpAx Since the ruling was very narrowly scripted for California's Prop 8, and not a referendum on gay marriage, this may not make it to the SCOTUS.
Pete February 07, 2012 at 09:44 PM
"and incidentally you need to figure out which it was" I do?
John B. Greet February 07, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I think this was the correct decision and I hope the full 9th Circuit panel concurs once this decision is appealed, as it most certainly will be.
Shripathi Kamath February 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Yes, you do, but if you don't want to learn the difference, at least know that a temper tantrum is different than 3 days of violence and destruction of property.
Pete February 07, 2012 at 11:17 PM
"Yes, you do, but if you don't want to learn the difference, at least know that a temper tantrum is different than 3 days of violence and destruction of property" Oh, sorry. I didn't realize there were rules here and that we had to be exact in what we say. I made the stupid assumption that people might be able to read through the lines. Alas, I do not have the exact amount of people who were involved with the protesting and vandalism or how many just threw a tantrum, so I guess I'm not allowed to post anything about it. I will remember for next time so the fact checkers don't get their panties all bunched up. I will have it figured out much better next time. So sorry.
Shripathi Kamath February 07, 2012 at 11:21 PM
You realized correctly. The only rules are those implemented by Patch.com. So you see, when you write something, someone else can respond. The same rules apply. But I suppose you should be forgiven, since you sincerely apologized and all.
Nancy Wride (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Interesting analysis there.
CriticalThinkerInFV February 08, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Sexuality has not sufficiently been proven to be an immutable characteristic at birth, gays have not faced a long standing history of oppression, homosexuals are not politically powerless, nor has marriage been acknowledged as a fundemental right so this law should be reviewed under the rational basis test rather than strict judicial scrutiny. The law is good under RBT. This is not an opinion or judgement, it is an intrpretation of the law. I could care less if Billy and Bobby get married, infact I have gay friends and hope they get married one day.
CriticalThinkerInFV February 08, 2012 at 01:09 AM
*interpretation

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