The California Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state, but the court also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed last year will remain valid.
Despite the conclusions in the 186-page ruling, the battle over same-sex marriage in California is likely to continue, with supporters insisting they will try to get the matter back on the ballot, or possibly try to appeal the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state's highest court heard oral arguments in March from attorneys supporting the measure and from those representing plaintiffs who claim the measure is unconstitutional.
Voters approved Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution, in November. The ban sparked outrage from gay rights advocates and prompted mass protests across the state.
In the days after the passage of Proposition 8, three lawsuits were filed directly with the state Supreme Court challenging the validity of the
Eight years ago, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. Brown noted that in the ruling overturning Proposition 22, the state Supreme Court found that the constitution guarantees that the right to marry cannot be denied to same-sex couples.
In their court papers, proponents of the measure attacked the view of opponents that Proposition 8 represents a radical change of the constitution that should have been required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
"But that portrayal is wildly wrong,'' proponents stated in their court papers. "Proposition 8 is limited in nature and effect. It does nothing more than restore the definition of marriage to what it was and always had been under California law before June 16, 2008--and to what the people had repeatedly willed that it be throughout California's history.''
They argued that the measure is not vague, but, rather, written in plain language and should invalidate any same-sex marriages that have been performed in the last several months. Brown has argued that the same-sex marriages that have been performed should remain valid.