Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state of California, was unconstitutional.
Looking at the language in the decision itself, the message is very clear: marriage equality does not have any effect on others’ marriage, religion, and children; nor does it threaten others’ freedom and liberty:
“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, 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 could have been enacted. Because under California statutory law, same-sex couples had all the rights of opposite-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, all parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only. It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain from the State, or any other authorized party, an important right—the right to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less. Proposition 8 therefore could not have been enacted to advance California’s interests in childrearing or responsible procreation, for it had no effect on the rights of same-sex couples to raise children or on the procreative practices of other couples. Nor did Proposition 8 have any effect on religious freedom or on parents’ rights to control their children’s education; it could not have been enacted to safeguard these liberties.”
The decision also points out that marriage is an important legal and social right, and that Proposition 8 was created with the sole reason to place same-sex couples in a “different” and “lesser” category:
“All that Proposition 9 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of ‘marriage,’ which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationships. 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 Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort’.” pp. 4-5
In another part of the ruling, the court unanimously rejected the argument that Judge Walker should have been disqualified, and recused himself, because he did not reveal at the time of the trial that he is a gay man with a longtime partner.
“We also affirm … the denial of the motion by the official sponsors of Proposition 8 to vacate the judgment entered by former Chief Judge Walker, on the basis of his purported interest in being allowed to marry his same-sex partner.” pp. 7-8
Everyone at Out & Equal celebrates the court’s decision today, and we feel energized and motivated by the strong current sweeping us into the next phase for the fight for marriage equality, and the validation that we can be out and equal in every aspect of our lives.