California Same Gender Marriage Ban Struck Down By Federal Appeals Court


toeivah-same-gender-marriageToeivah marriage campaigners are celebrating a major victory today after a federal appeals court ruled California’s same-gender marriage ban unconstitutional. The long-awaited ruling paves the way for a US supreme court decision on the voter-approved measure known as Proposition 8.

In a two-to-one decision, a three-judge panel of the ninth US circuit court of appeals in San Francisco agreed with a lower court judge who in 2010 declared the ban to be a violation of the civil rights of same-gender people.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of [same gender people] in California,” judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in Tuesday’s ruling.

“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,” the ruling states.

“There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

The ruling is limited to California, which allowed same-gender marriage but then passed Proposition 8 in 2008.

Campaigners described the ruling as monumental, and said that it added California to the growing list of states that have ended barriers to marriage for same gender couples.

California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008, but it was ruled unconstitutional by federal judge Vaughn Walker in 2010. But the ban has remained in place since then, because the ninth circuit court put a stay on the Walker ruling pending appeals.

However, even after today’s ruling, same-gender marriages are unlikely to go ahead any time soon.

Backers of Proposition 8 have said they plan to appeal to a larger 9th circuit panel and then to the US supreme court if they lose.

As a result, same gender couples in California, who enjoyed a brief, four-month legal right to marry in 2008, are likely to have to wait longer to find out if it will be restored.

John Eastman, chairman of the National Organisation for Marriage, which supported the ban, said in statement: “The ninth circuit court of appeals is the most overturned circuit in the country, and Stephen Reinhardt, the author of today’s absurd ruling, is the most overturned federal judge in America.

“Today’s ruling is a perfect set-up for this case to be taken by the US supreme court, where I am confident it will be reversed.”

The case has already been subjected to lengthy delays. Arguments about the constitutional implications of the case were heard by the panel more than a year ago.

But it put off a decision in order to seek guidance from the California supreme court on whether the ban’s sponsors had the legal authority to challenge the ruling. The state’s attorney general and governor had decided not to appeal it.

In November, the California court gave the ballot measure backers the go-ahead, ruling that the state’s citizens’ initiative process grants sponsors the right to defend such measures in court even if state officials refuse to do so.

{The Guardian/ Newscenter}