California gay marriage ban struck down
08 February 2012, 10:01
San Francisco - A US appeals court on Tuesday found California's gay
marriage ban unconstitutional in a case that is likely to lead to a
showdown on the issue in the US Supreme Court.
The split 2-1
decision from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals featured two
Democratically appointed judges voting in favor of striking down the
ban, while a Republican judge dissented.
California joined the
vast majority of US states in outlawing same-sex marriage in 2008, when
voters passed the ban known as Proposition 8.
The 2008 socially
conservative vote by a state more known for hippies and Hollywood was
seen as a watershed by both sides of the so-called culture wars, and two
gay couples responded by filing the legal challenge currently making
its way through the federal courts.
A federal judge in San
Francisco struck down Proposition 8 in 2010, and gay marriage opponents
appealed that ruling to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage both have said they are
ready to appeal the decision all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Opponents of gay marriage could ask a larger 9th Circuit panel to hear
the matter, or decide to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they
believe to be desirable," 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote, "it
requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a
law that treats different classes of people differently."
"There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," Reinhardt wrote.
About 40 of the 50 US states had outlawed gay marriage before a
California state court ruled in 2008 that a ban was unconstitutional,
leading to a summer of gay marriages. But California voters that
November decided to change the state constitution to limit marriage to a
man and woman.