‘The Moral High Ground’: 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Rules Prop. 8, California’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
In a major step towards marriage equality, a federal appeals court has ruled that California’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, highlighting the absurdity of leaving civil rights issues up to a popular vote and setting the stage for an historic Supreme Court showdown.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2-1 that California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure approved by just over half of California’s voters in 2008, stripped rights away from a vulnerable minority without conferring any benefit to parents, children or the institution of marriage.
“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,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the majority opinion.
“The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
Prop. 8, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, repealed an earlier state Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in California. Thousands of couples married after that ruling, but following the approval of Prop. 8 such marriages could no longer be performed in the state.
Today’s decision upholds a lower court’s 2010 ruling by then-Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled that LGBT people have a constitutional right to marry their chosen partner.
The current ban will remain in effect pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court challenge.
The Huffington Post reports that a group of around 50 people who gathered outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco welcomed the ruling with jubilant cheers. They waved rainbow flags and embraced each other upon hearing the good news.
California Governor Jerry Brown, who as state Attorney General refused to defend Prop. 8, also hailed the ruling.
“The court has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry,” he said in a statement. “I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision.”
But Prop. 8 proponents vowed to fight on.
“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage – tried in San Francisco – turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8, is quoted in the Huffington Post.
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