Gay marriage: California's Prop. 8 lands on doorstep of US Supreme Court (+video)
US Supreme Court is asked to hear California's Prop. 8 case. If the justices agree to hear that one and federal Defense of Marriage Act cases in the next term, it would mark the most extensive and important examination of gay rights in the US ever.
Proponents of California’s ban on same-sex marriage asked the US Supreme Court on Tuesday to reverse a lower court decision striking down the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment that had defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.Skip to next paragraph
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In a 39-page petition, Washington lawyer Charles Cooper urged the high court to take up the case and rule that state voters retain the ability to decide for themselves how to define marriage without violating federal constitutional rights.
“While our Constitution does not mandate the traditional definition of marriage, neither does our Constitution condemn it,” Mr. Cooper wrote.
“Rather,” he said, “it leaves the definition of marriage in the hands of the People, to be resolved through the democratic process in each State.”
The California appeal arrives at the high court at the same time as several cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal benefits to married opposite-sex couples.
Should the high court agree to hear the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases, the combination of both issues during the same term would mark the most extensive and important Supreme Court examination of gay rights in the US ever.
At issue in Hollingsworth v. Perry is whether a panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was correct when it ruled 2-to-1 in February that the 2008 California ballot initiative, Proposition 8, violated the equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry.
The issue of same-sex marriage arose after the California Supreme Court interpreted the state constitution as requiring the recognition of same-sex marriages.
Supporters of the traditional definition of marriage objected and organized a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution. The Prop. 8 amendment read: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
In the months before the statewide vote, 18,000 same-sex couples took advantage of the ruling and were married.
The campaign for and against Prop. 8 was bitter and divisive. Prop. 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote.
After the amendment passed, two same-sex couples filed suit in federal court in San Francisco, charging that Prop. 8 violated the US Constitution. A federal judge conducted a trial and ruled for the couples, declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.