Prop. 8 declared unconstitutional by 9th Circuit Court; stay prevents same-sex marriages from resuming
Duncan doesn't agree that California voters acted out of animosity or disapproval in passing Prop. 8, and pointed to the domestic partnership law as evidence. "The fact that California voters wanted to leave the status quo, and bent over backwards to be fair, was not out of hatred, but just the opposite," said Duncan. "They wanted to give the benefits, but still do justice to the value society places on marriage being between a man and wife and what that brings to children."
Duncan believes this decision will invite more lawsuits across the country now, which is another reason the U.S. Supreme Court may want to hear the case.
Equality Utah's Balken finds reasons for optimism in the decision. "One of the things that is beneficial about the court of appeal's statement," she said, "is that the Constitution does indeed apply to gay and transgender people in the United States of America."
The legal journey began with the passing of California Proposition 22 in 2000, which attempted to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The California Supreme Court declared this proposition unconstitutional under California's constitution in May 2008. This meant gays and lesbians were legally allowed to marry in California.
The May 2008 decision also led to the movement to amend California's constitution to define marriage.
Proposition 8 was approved by California voters and went into effect in November 2008, putting a legal end to any further gay marriages in California.
The challenge came quickly from same-sex-marriage proponents American Foundation for Equal Rights, which backed a legal challenge to Prop. 8. Because the proposition had changed the California constitution, it had to be challenged under the U.S. Constitution. The case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger resulted.
The first stop was the Federal District Court, where Judge Walker decided there was no rational reason to oppose same-sex marriage and so it was unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. From there the case went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is now called Perry v. Brown because of the change in California's governor.
Today the 9th Circuit affirmed Judge Walker's decision, but narrowed it to only apply to California.
"We recognize that this decision represents a continuation of what has been a vigorous public debate over the rights of the people to define and protect the fundamental institution of marriage," the statement from LDS Church spokesman Trotter said. "There is no doubt that today's ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion."
"The court is not trying to make this easy," Duncan said.
The Ninth Circuit panel also ruled today that Judge Walker was not obligated to recuse himself from the Prop 8 case because he was in a longstanding same-sex relationship.
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