After one proposition, many lawsuits, a pile of bills passed by the Legislature, and two vetoes by the governor, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on 2008-MAY-14. California became the second state to do so, after Massachusetts. Loving, committed California same-sex couples began marrying on 2008-JUN-16.
Proposition 8 was organized by a coalition of Roman Catholics, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints (the Mormons) and various fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian groups. Its intent was to re-define marriage in California as a special privilege restricted to opposite-sex couples. The public voted voted on Prop. 8 on elecion day, 2008-NOV-04. It narrowly passed 53% to 48%.
The Supreme Court of California heard oral arguments on a lawsui challenging the constitutionality of Prop. 8 on 2009-MAR-05. As expected, on 2009-MAY-26, the court upheld its constitutionality, thus continuing the current ban on SSM. However, he court also ruled that the Proposition was not retroactive. Thus, same-sex couples who were legally married during 2008 before election day would continue to be considered married; they would not be forcibly divorced against their will. This is one more example that same-sex couples who are interested in marrying should proceed with all possible speed as soon as SSMs are legalized within their state. Their right to marry may be snatched away at any time.
This decision leaves the civil rights of any minority group at danger. Any group who is unhappy ha a particular racial, religious, or other minority has equal rights can now raise a proposition in California to eliminate any civil right enjoyed by that minority. If the Proposition is passed by at least 50% of the voters plus one, the minority would be reduced to second-class citizenship. Atheists' are at particular risk, because of the public's high level of dislike and intolerance towards them.
The due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution apparently no longer apply in California.
Challenging Prop. 8:
A lawsuit was launched in federal court to overturn Prop. 8.The argument was based on the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On 2010-AUG-04, Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it violates both clauses.
The proponents of Prop. 8 obtained an injunction from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This would keep SSMs unavailable for the time being. They have launched an appeal of Judge Walker's decision to the same court. However, it is not at all clear whether they will be considered to have standing to make an appeal. The team who organized Prop. 8 and who led the fight in the Federal District Court may not be able to demonstrate that they are a "legally interested party" in this case. To appeal a case, a person or group has to first establish that they would suffer harm unless an Court of Appeals hears an appeal to overturn the lower court ruling. Having one's ideological beliefs bent out of shape are not usually considered a sufficient harm.
The state of California certainly could appeal on behalf of he public. However both the Governor and the Attorney General consider Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional and undesirable. The proponents of Prop. 8 have petitioned the Court of Appeals to force the Governor and Attorney General to defend Prop. 8.
The case is appealed to the Court of Appeals by the proponents of Prop. 8. They lost their appeal due to the coincidence of four factors:
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected. They may decide to not hear the case because it affects only California. If they hear the case and rule in favor of same-sex marriage, it would only legalize SSM in this one state because the decision of the Court of Appeals only covers situations in which SSMs were first legalized, and later terminated by a citizen initiative. It is likely that on appeal, the Supreme Court will overturn the Court of Appeals' ruling for two reasons:
The Prop 8 issue is being actively debated at Living Vote.org. See: http://www.livingvote.org/
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