Prop. 8 Upheld by California Supreme Court


California, often thought of as a leading indicator of social trends, falls behind on gay marriage as the state's Supreme Court upholds Prop 8, which bars the practice in the state--while ensuring that same-sex marriages that happened in California during the period when it was legal in the state will stay legal.

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But the legal fight is by no means over. The L.A Times report explains, "Gay rights activists say they may ask voters to repeal the marriage ban as early as next year, and opponents have pledged to fight any such effort."

That Times article presents a tight history of this decade's tangled legal path for gay marriage in California::

The legal fight over same-sex marriage in California began in San Francisco in 2004, when Mayor Gavin Newsom spurned state law, and the city began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Long lines of couples showed up to marry and celebrated within view of the court with rice and champagne....

Those gay couples who wed in San Francisco later had their marriages rescinded by the California Supreme Court, which ruled that a city could not single-handedly flout state law. But the court said supporters of marriage rights could challenge the ban in the lower courts.

The legal fight moved to San Francisco Superior Court, where a judge struck down the marriage ban as unconstitutional. A Court of Appeal in San Francisco later overturned that decision on a 2-1 vote. The state high court eventually took up the case, which culminated in a May 15 ruling last year declaring gays could marry each other.

That ended, of course, with California's voters narrowly passing Prop 8 in November. Given that by the end of the year such marriages will be legal in states as diverse as Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, and given the narrowness of Prop 8's victory, if gay marriage proponents continue to fight the legal fight through the initiative process, an eventual victory in California seems inevitable.

Text of the full California Supreme Court's 6-1 decision on the challenge to Prop 8.

Via L.A. Observed, L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa's response:

"While there is much to criticize in today's court decision and there will be plenty of debates about our path forward, one thing is clear: This debate will rest in the hands of the people. And that might just be the best place for it because the fight for equality is not about morality or religion, our schools or our places of work. It's about real people and real human beings. It's about men and women trying to lead successful lives with those they love....

"In the coming years - as we make our case to voters and as the majority of our neighbors come to understand the real, painful, human impact of Prop 8 across California - I am confident that this state will have a change of heart...

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Fritz Leiss. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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