Court Declares California’s Gay Marriage Ban Unconsitutional

February 8th, 2012

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held yesterday that Proposition 8, California’s voter-enacted ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional.  The decision did not go as far as requiring that every state recognize gay marriage but held that Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment by stigmatizing a minority group without a legitimate reason.  The 128 page decision may face an appeal where it would be reviewed by an expanded 9th Circuit court or the Supreme Court.  By focusing on the California statute, rather than the broader constitutionality of restrictions on gay marriage, the holding will likely pass further scrutiny.

The majority opinion, penned by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that Propostion 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.”

Six states currently permit gay marriage and the topic is likely to be a hot issue in upcoming elections.

The WSJ presents a detailed overview of the history of the fight for legalized gay marriage in California.

My favorite, poetic quote from the decision:

‘Marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationships that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.