UPDATED: Prop. 8 Ruled Unconstitutional By Appeals Court
"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."
So stated 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt, in the 120-page ruling that declared the voter-approved measure that defined marriage as being between only a man and a woman discriminatory and against the principles of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that equal protections cannot be denied to any person by state government.
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The legal team that emerged victorious today expects that opponents to gay marriage will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may or may not take the case.
“Because of the way the Appellate Court showed restraint and applied Romer (v. Evans, a landmark gay rights case in Colorado) this doesn’t conflict with other cases,” said Ted Boutros, co-counsel for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Boutros continued his theory, explaining that, because the Supreme Court rules in accordance to the law, it would be less likely that they would consider the Prop. 8 appeal.
The question of when the stay on same-sex marriages would be lifted during the appeal process was one that could not be answered right away.
Members of the LGBT community are being cautiously optimistic about the court’s decision, knowing that an appeal will most likely be filed soon. Prop. 8 proponents have 21 days to request an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich was one of the first to oppose the challenge when it was first raised after the 2008 election.
“Once again, activist judges with a political correctness agenda have disenfranchised the people who voted overwhelmingly to oppose same-sex marriage in California -- over 4.5 million Californians in 2000, and over 7 million in 2008. This ruling needs to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.”
While the issue passed with a majority of five percent (52.5 percent of voters in favor, 47.5 percent against) statewide, in Los Angeles County, less than one percentage point separated the sides. The close race came down to 50.4 percent of the voters in favor and 49.6 percent against.
“This historic decision is a major step forward in the march toward equality for all Americans,” said Senator Barbara Boxer. “It’s a great day for the millions of Californians who deserve the same rights and recognition as every other family in our state.”
“I think everyone is really exited and feel validated that the Appellate Court upheld the decision,” said Greg Hernandez, international journalist and blogger of Greg In Hollywood. “But there have been so many setbacks over the last few years in California regarding gay marriage, I think everyone is kind of holding their breath and waiting to see what will come next. The Supreme Court could hear the case and then you’d have to wait to see what they decided, or they may not decide to hear the case and then that it would end the whole thing.
“The decision is written so well and is so thorough that it really should hold up if it is heard in the Supreme Court,” he continued. “You can’t predict what the justices are going to do, but the lawyers feel really confident in the legal sense that this will be it.”
Since the decision hit social networks, Hernandez said that he’s heard from a broad spectrum of friends and colleagues.
“The exciting thing is that this will have national repercussions in other states as well and might set a precedent on a federal level,” Hernandez continued. “This is really huge, as the most populous state, as California goes, there goes the nation. People are really excited, but they’re cautiously excited because we’ve been through a lot and we’ve had gay marriage legal, then we had it taken away from us, and yeah, you have a victory that is very significant, but you know the opposition is really not done fighting, so you have to be cautious in your optimism and your excitement.”