Prop 8 – Ruled Unconstitutional….Again……….

So once again………Proposition 8 from California (which rescinded Marriage Equality) was found to be unconstitutional. A federal district court had previously thrown out the ban on constitutional grounds and yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s Proposition 8, was unconstitutional as well……

What is Prop 8?:

  • A ballot initiative that Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry – A State of California Constitutional Amendment (called California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition (voted on by citizens) that passed in the November 2008 elections.

What the court ruling said:

  • Should the lower court judge have recused himself simply because he happens to be gay and may wish to marry his partner, as marriage equality opponents contended: NO.
  • Do the proponents (supporters) of Proposition 8 have the legal right, known as standing, to defend it in court: YES.
  • Is Proposition 8 constitutional: NO.

What the court said:

  • In a 2 to 1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Walker’s decision declaring that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

From the majority opinion:

  • Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.
  • The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.
  • That designation [of marriage] is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.
    (emphasis mine)

What this means – 2 things:

  • The ruling is unique and narrow to the state of California which limits the possibilty of the Supreme Court hearing the case, yet it remains a possibility. A broader decision would have certainly drawn Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) attention but there is a chance that the justices may pass on it as it is limited to issues within the state of California.
  • By not ruling on the case, the SCOTUS avoids having to rule on other state based cases such as Alabama’s Marriage Amendment. The bigger, national fight is put off until tomorrow but the people of Alabama suffer but Proposition 8 is likely dead in California…….

Next week – Why elections matter and what does the 2012 election means for the Supreme Court….

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