In a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned “Prop 8”, which banned same-sex marriages in California. The ban was put in place by the 2008 referendum on the issue after a state Supreme Court legalized the marriages; 52.30% of voters were in favor of the proposition.
In the majority opinion, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”
The decision upheld a lower court’s ruling in 2010 by former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Walker’s own sexual orientation, publicly disclosed after he retired, led some to question whether the judge should have recused himself in 2010; the issue was again brought up by some conservative groups last spring, which delayed the ruling.
Though the decision is what American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin calls “a historic victory”, same-sex marriages won’t resume immediately.
Opponents, including senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, Brian Raum, want to see the issue brought to a larger 9th Circuit panel and to the U.S. Supreme Court:
"We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage — tried in San Francisco — turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court."
Since Californians did vote in favor of Proposition 8, we’ll just have to wait and see whether it’s the people or the courts that have the final say.