Appeals Court upholds decision to strike down California’s Prop 8

Gay marriage opponents expected to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Appeals Court upholds decision to strike down California’s Prop 8
07 February 2012

Proponents of gay marriage scored a major victory today (7 February) when a federal appeals court ruled that California's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a decision made last year by former U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker.

Walker had ruled that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state when it was passed by voters in 2008, is a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

The opinion written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt states in part: '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 judges also ruled in a unanimous vote that Judge Walker need not have recused himself from the case because he is gay.

'This is a huge day,' Theodore B. Olson, co-counsel the case that resulted in the court decision, said at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles less than an hour after the ruling was released.

'This case is about equality and freedom and dignity and fairness and decency,' said Olson (pictured). 'It's about whether we are going to eliminate government-sponsored discrimination written into the constitution of the biggest state [by population] in the United States. It is about whether we are going to eliminate second-class citizenship. … We are bringing a stop to that discrimination.'

Olson believes the ruling will have national implications.

'Every legal decision allows the American people to hear more about what these issues are, to ask questions and think about these issues,' he said. 'Court decisions, it will change public opinion, it will change what legislatures do. I cannot overstate the importance of this decision.'

At the press conference, organized by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Olson was accompanied by the two couples who are the plaintiffs in the case: Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.

'We will be able to stand before our family and friends and make the one promise that we have all longed for,' said Zarrillo who added that the lawsuit has brought he and his partner of nearly 11 years even closer.

Even though California Gov. Jerry Brown is a defendent in the case (as was his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger), he has not wanted the state to defend Proposition 8.

'The court has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry,' Brown said via Twitter after the ruling. 'I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision.'

The ruling does not mean same-sex couples can immediately get married in California. Opponents are expected to file documents to halt marriages until the ruling can be reviewed. They are expected to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Los Angeles authorities urge gay men to get vaccinated after meningitis outbreak

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is urging all men who have sex with other men to be vaccinated against meningitis regardless of their HIV status after a jump in cases in West and North Hollywood
No thumbnail available

Steve Strange, lead singer of the 1980s pop band Visage, dies at age 55

The bisexual singer was best known for the hit Fade To Grey
No thumbnail available

Facebook launches gay marriage icon

Gay and lesbian users on social networking site can now choose a same-sex marriage option when they wed
No thumbnail available

Actor who plays gay character on Days of Our Lives injured in car accident

Freddie Smith lost control of his car in Ohio - passenger in critical condition
No thumbnail available

Lynx breaks new ground to feature gay kiss in new ad

Company have finally realised gay and bisexual men ocassionally use Lynx/Axe products
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Aussies love Scary Spice

Former Spice Girl and mother of three has waltzed in to Australian hearts with a $1 million TV deal
No thumbnail available

Discover America’s most homophobic states through Twitter

Students at Humboldt State University have mapped out hate speech on Twitter, showing which regions use homophobic hate terms the most 
No thumbnail available

US military allowed to wear uniforms at gay pride

Gay and lesbian members of the military will be able to show their pride at San Diego