California Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional, But Appeal Imminent
In a 2-1 ruling, justices with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found Proposition 8, commonly known as the gay marriage ban, unconstitutional.
According to the case summary, "The panel majority affirmed the judgment of the district court and held that Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to eliminate the previously guaranteed right of same-sex couples to marry, violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The panel majority held that by using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitimate reason for doing so, the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause."
"The panel majority concluded that Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," it continued.
Prop. 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, passed with a margin of 4.5% in the California general election in 2008.
The controversial ballot initiative was supported by many religious leaders and conservatives who convinced voters that they should be afraid of gay rights. Advertisements were plastered across the airwaves stating that allowing same sex marriage in California would mean that elementary school teachers would expose children to homosexuality through picture books and that religious leaders would be forced to marry same sex couples prohibited by their respective religions.
Neither of these claims was inherently true, but the fear was enough to sway voters to limit civil rights in the constitution.
Three religions notably stood against Prop. 8, in support of gay marriage. Episcopalian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist groups argued that banning same sex marriage was equal to stripping people of their civil rights.
The ban on same sex marriage followed a period of six months in the state of California when homosexual couples were permitted to marry. The marriages were to be performed legally by the state, and religious leaders could use discretion as to whether or not they would perform same sex ceremonies. Couples who were married during that six month period are still legally married, but since the ban no government agency has been allowed to perform a marriage ceremony between two women or two men.Continued on the next page