Breaking: Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional

Update: Proposition 8 has been overturned. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal.

The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.

“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.

Lisa Leff filed a story which is appearing at Huffington Post, and includes the following:

"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. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," the ruling states.

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed before he issued his decision that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, past president of Integrity released the following statement:

Today’s 9th Circuit Court decision is not just a victory for gay and lesbian couples in California – it is a victory for all Americans who believe that the “liberty and justice for all” in the pledge we teach our children really means ALL.

It is also a victory over those who erroneously believe that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment gives them freedom to write their theology on marriage – or anything else – into our Constitution.

And make no mistake about it: There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the days to come from those in the marriage discrimination business about how their freedom of religion is being trampled on by today’s decision for equality. But the truth of the matter is they are just as free today to decide for themselves whether God equally blesses our marriages. What the 9th Circuit Court said today is that they are NOT free to decide whether the Constitution equally protects them.

A Roman Catholic priest is just as free to NOT marry a gay and lesbian couple as he is to NOT marry a divorced couple. Meanwhile, and in my congregation – All Saints Pasadena – we can now get back to the business of offering equal pastoral care for ALL couples who come to us for the sacrament of marriage – because today’s ruling affirms that the First Amendment protects not just freedom of religion but freedom from religion.

But for all the joy in today’s decision, let us not forget however that an opposite sex couple married in California immediately receives 1138 federally protected rights that the same sex couple next door doesn’t have – and won’t have until we Dump DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act.)

So today is a day for rejoicing here in California. And tomorrow we get back to work making marriage equality happen for all Americans.

Cathy Lynn Grossman writes in USA Today that religious leaders are calling Prop 8 ruling 'insult' or 'victory':

Insulted, outraged -- or unavailable. That's how some major religious voices responded Tuesday when the 9th Circuit Court upheld a lower court ruling that overturned California's ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8. Those who back same-sex marriage, however, were quick and gleeful in public reaction.

The court said gay marriages cannot resume in the state until the deadline passes for Proposition 8 sponsors to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit. If such an appeal is filed, gay marriages will remain on hold until it's resolved.

Our earlier coverage:

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that there are 3 possibilities for the 9th Circuit court:

A broad ruling that affirms a federal judge's 2010 conclusion that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to wed their chosen partner would invite review by a high court that frequently overturns decisions by the more liberal Ninth Circuit.
But the panel might also overturn Prop. 8 on more limited grounds: that California, apparently because of its voters' disapproval of homosexuality, had withdrawn marital rights granted to same-sex couples by the state Supreme Court less than six months earlier.
The court could also find that California had no rational basis for denying marriage to same-sex couples after adopting laws and policies providing gays and lesbians with an array of other rights in areas like employment, housing and child custody, a ruling that would apply to a limited number of states.
The appeals court panel also plans to rule today on a separate but related issue raised by Prop. 8's supporters: whether the now-retired Walker should have been disqualified from the case, and his ruling set aside, because he did not disclose before the trial that he is a gay man with a longtime partner whom he could marry if same-sex marriages were legalized.

A helpful graphic can be found on The Friends of Jake blog (created by gaymarriedcalifornian.blogspot.com). It's been updated from previous versions, but I still find it sad that the figure against marriage equality is in clergy collar...

Comments (4)

TBTG! Alleluia! :-D

JC Fisher

...in California.

Kurt,
My decision to represent the opposition in a Roman collar was very deliberate.

The architect of Prop8 is widely accepted to be Roman Catholic Bishop Salvatore Cordileone.
As an auxiliary bishop in San Diego, Cordileone played an indispensable role in conceiving, funding, organizing, and ultimately winning the campaign to pass Proposition 8. It was Bishop Sal and a small group of Catholic leaders who decided that they had to amend the state constitution. It was Bishop Sal who found the first major donor and flushed the fledgling campaign with cash. It was Bishop Sal who personally brought in the organization that took the lead on the petition drive. And it was Bishop Sal who coordinated the Catholic effort with evangelical churches around the state. Bishop Sal even helped craft the campaign's rhetorical strategy, sitting in on focus groups to hone the message of Proposition 8.

While ironically, lay Catholics are the most supportive faith group towards marriage equality, the institutional Roman Catholic church remains an implacable foe. They poured huge sums into Prop8, something they repeated in Maine, and are currently replicating in Minnesota. The Knights of Columbus is now primarily an anti-marriage agency.

An updated version of the graphic should be done by this evening. But because Prop8 was essentially a creation of the Roman Catholic church, abetted by the Mormons and Evangelicals, the collar will remain.

Susan Forsburg

Susan: thanks for taking time to explain the graphic. I assumed it was deliberate.

I will clarify: although "sad" is an accurate description of how I feel in seeing the clergy collar, accurate is also fair way to describe the depiction.

Thankfully there are also clergy who feel otherwise (including me!)

Kurt

I have a funny feeling that this matter will figure prominently in the up-coming election.

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