A California court ruled Proposition 8, which defines marriage between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.
The 2-1 decision by a panel of judges found that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution. In their ruling, the judges stated that while the Constitution allows communities to enact 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. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”
They went on to say that Proposition 8 had only one effect, “it stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to … use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships”.
Read the entire ruling here.
Proposition 8 was approved by California voters with 52% of the vote in November 2008, and was almost instantly appealed.
Supporters of gay marriage won on appeal in August 2010, however the federal judge issued an injunction pending appeal. Meaning no gay marriages could legally take place until the issue was resolved.
The case was then appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and judges there delayed their decision to wait for a ruling on who could represent the case in court.
Then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and current State Attorney General Kamala Harris have refused to represent California during the appeal process, and last year Proposition 8 backers won the right to represent their side in court.
ProtectMarriage and other Prop 8 backers can appeal Tuesday’s ruling to a larger panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or theU.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could get the case as early as next year.
Gay marriages will not immediately resume in California. The judges left in place the injunction from the earlier ruling, preventing gay marriages until the issue is all the way through the appeal process.