From the LA Times story:
SAN FRANCISCO -- -- The California Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting state marriage laws as discriminatory.
The state high court's 4-3 ruling was unlikely to end the debate over gay matrimony in California. A group has circulated petitions for a November ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to block same-sex marriage, while the Legislature has twice passed bills to authorize gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both.
Today’s ruling by the Republican-dominated court affects more than 100,000 same-sex couples in the state, about a quarter of whom have children, according to U.S. census figures. It came after high courts in New York, Washington and New Jersey refused to extend marriage rights to gay couples. Before today, only Massachusetts' top court has ruled in favor of permitting gays to wed.
(The New York Times' story is here.)
From the decision:
Accordingly, we conclude that the right to marry, as embodied in article I, sections 1 and 7 of the California Constitution, guarantees same-sex couples the same substantive constitutional rights as opposite-sex couples to choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.
After carefully evaluating the pertinent considerations in the present case,we conclude that the state interest in limiting the designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples, and in excluding same-sex couples from access to that designation, cannot properly be considered a compelling state interest for equal protection purposes. To begin with, the limitation clearly is not necessary to preserve the rights and benefits of marriage currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Extending access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couple or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by the marriage statutes, but simply will make the benefit of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children. As Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals succinctly observed in her dissenting opinion in Hernandez v. Robles: “There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone.” Further, permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not alter the substantive nature of the legal institution of marriage; same-sex couples who choose to enter into the relationship with that designation will be subject to the same duties and obligations to each other, to their children, and to third parties that the law currently imposes upon opposite-sex couples who marry. Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)
While retention of the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples is not needed to preserve the rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children. As discussed above, because of the long and celebrated history of the term “marriage” and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term “marriage” is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship. Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.
In light of all of these circumstances, we conclude that retention of the traditional definition of marriage does not constitute a state interest sufficiently compelling, under the strict scrutiny equal protection standard, to justify withholding that status from same-sex couples. Accordingly, insofar as the provisions of sections 300 and 308.5 draw a distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples and exclude the latter from access to the designation of marriage, we conclude these statutes are unconstitutional.
Read the decision.
Andrew Sullivan reacts.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was quick to issue a statement. “I respect the Court’s decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," he said. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.”
Integrity has also responded. Click Read more to see their release. An excerpt:
"As we rejoice in this movement forward on civil marriage equality, Integrity is working hard as to move the Episcopal Church forward on sacramental marriage equality," concluded [the Rev. Susan] Russell. "Although same-gender blessings are permitted by the Episcopal Church and are performed in a many dioceses and parishes, we believe the time has come for an official rite for blessing same-gender couples. Committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments, we will be asking General Convention to authorize such a rite a year from now in Anaheim."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"The California Supreme Court today ruled in favor of marriage and against bigotry," said the Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity. "Integrity is proud to have signed the interfaith amicus brief that helped influence this decision, which we celebrate as a giant step closer to "liberty and justice for all."
Russell continued, "In 1976 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution expressing its conviction that 'homosexual persons' are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens. We applaud those who are working hard at the state and national levels to make that equal protection not just a resolution but a reality and we salute today's decision as a huge step forward toward that goal."
"As we rejoice in this movement forward on civil marriage equality, Integrity is working hard as to move the Episcopal Church forward on sacramental marriage equality," concluded Russell. "Although same-gender blessings are permitted by the Episcopal Church and are performed in a many dioceses and parishes, we believe the time has come for an official rite for blessing same-gender couples. Committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments, we will be asking General Convention to authorize such a rite a year from now in Anaheim."