An appeals court in California has
declared that the state's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, violates
the 14th Amendment.
In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling which
declared that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of gay
and lesbian couples who wish to marry.
Writing for the majority, Judge Stephen
Reinhardt wrote: “We consider whether the amendment violates the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We conclude
that it does.”
“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 8 could have been enacted.
Citing Romer v. Evans, the court
added: “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.'”
However, the court's majority demurred
on the broader question of whether gay couples have the right to
“We need not and do not answer the
broader question in this case, however, because California had
already extended to committed same-sex couples both the incidents of
marriage and the official designation of 'marriage,' and Proposition
8's only effect was to take away that important and legal significant
designation, while leaving in place all of its incidents.”
California voters approved the measure
by a narrow margin on November 4, 2008. The law put an end to the
weddings of gay couples taking place in the state after the
California Supreme Court legalized the institution.
The court's narrow ruling means it will
likely be limited to California, the only state in its 9-state
jurisdiction where such unions were once legal.
Supporters of the ban are expected to
appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court, which means
no gay weddings in California anytime soon.