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Prop 8 supporters appeal to full 9th circuit

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
SAN FRANCISCO (BP) -- Bypassing the Supreme Court for the moment, supporters of California Prop 8 are appealing a ruling that went against them to the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision gives two opportunities, instead of one, to see the Feb. 7 decision reversed. In that ruling, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit struck down Prop 8, although it said its ruling was "narrow" and applied only to California and not to other states. If the Supreme Court had refused to hear the case, it would have been the end of the legal road. Prop 8 is a voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The petition was filed Tuesday (Feb. 21).

"After careful consideration, we determined that asking for reconsideration by the full Ninth Circuit is in the best interests of defending Prop 8," said Andy Pugno, an attorney representing "This gives the entire Ninth Circuit a chance to correct this anomalous decision by just two judges overturning the vote of seven million Californians."

The panel's decision was a 2-1 split. Although the Ninth Circuit often is considered the country's most liberal appeals court, its rules regarding full "en banc" reviews could end up benefiting Prop 8 supporters. If a majority of the court's 25 judges agree to hear the case, it will be assigned to the chief judge and 10 randomly selected judges, the Associated Press reported. Supporters hope that panel would include the court's more conservative judges.


"The majority opinion by the smaller panel conflicts with every state and federal appellate court decision -- including binding decisions of the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit itself -- that has upheld the traditional marriage laws under the federal Constitution as rationally related to the state's interest in responsible procreation and child-rearing," Pugno said.

In their petition to the court, Prop 8 supporters said the Ninth Circuit panel was wrong to rule that the "sole purpose" of Prop 8 was to declare the "lesser worth" of gays and to "dishonor a disfavored group."

"Do President Obama and a host of other prominent champions of equal rights for gays and lesbians support the traditional definition of marriage solely to disapprove of gays and lesbians as a class and to dishonor same-sex couples as a people?" Prop 8 attorneys asked in their petition. "The reality is simply that 'here are millions of Americans,' as one of the Plaintiffs' own expert witnesses has acknowledged, 'who believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians ... but who draw the line at marriage.'"

California and other states, the petition said, have a legitimate reason to define marriage as between one man and one woman.


"Through the institution of marriage, societies seek to increase the likelihood that children will be born and raised in stable and enduring family units by both the mothers and the fathers who brought them into this world," the petition said. "... By reserving the name 'marriage' to committed opposite-sex couples, Proposition 8 provides special promotion, encouragement, and support to those relationships most likely to further society's vital interest in responsible procreation and childrearing."

Read the full petition at

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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