California's top court upholds Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage
The court says the measure only takes away the term 'marriage' – not a gay couple's legal rights. The ruling also preserves 18,000 marriages that took place before the ban.
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"The California Supreme Court arrived at the only correct conclusion available: The people of California have a fundamental right to amend their own constitution," said Austin Nimocks, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that opposes same-sex marriages, in a statement. "This is the second time California has voted to protect marriage. Once again, when marriage goes before the voters, they affirm that marriage means one man and one woman. All 30 states that have voted on whether to affirm marriage as one man and one woman in their state constitutions have done so."Skip to next paragraph
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But gay rights groups say they are already planning to fight Tuesday's ruling – possibly with a proposition of their own.
"Today's decision is a terrible blow to same-sex couples who share the same hopes and dreams for their families as other Californians," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, in a statement. "But our path ahead is now clear. We will go back to the ballot box and we will win."
In the lone dissenting view from the court, Justice Carlos Moreno said that Prop. 8 "represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification."
Same-sex couples to continue fight
Gay rights groups had gathered across California Tuesday morning to hear the decision and many were planning protest marches for later in the day.
"I'm disappointed by the decision because it puts me in a minority of a minority. I'm happy that 18,000 gay marriages remain valid, but now we feel like second-class citizens, that our marriage is not as valid as others. I'm going to continue to work for gay marriage by going door to door, and I hope to get it on the ballot again in 2010," says Los Angeles resident Eric Manriquez, who married his partner, Juan Rivera, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages last year.
"I hope it doesn't slow the momentum for [gay marriage] in other states. I don't think it should. Why would some other state behave backward just because California did?" asks Mr. Rivera.
Same-sex marriages have gained greater public acceptance since Massachusetts became the first US state in 2004 to legally issue marriage licenses to gay couples. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released last month showed that 49 percent of Americans now say same-sex marriages should be legal, compared with 36 percent three years ago.
"Public opinion is moving in the direction of fairness and equality, and it is only a matter of time until the freedom to marry will again be secure for all Californians," said Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal, one of the groups that challenged Prop. 8.