The California Supreme Court announced
Friday it will rule Tuesday on the state's controversial gay marriage
ban, Proposition 8.
At stake is the validity of the
November voter-approved referendum that yanked back the right of gay
and lesbian couples to marry in the state. The court will also
decide the future of 18,000 gay marriages performed during the
June-to-November “summer of love” when gay marriage was legal.
Proposition 8 placed a gay marriage ban
in the California Constitution, effectively overturning the high
court's 4 to 3 decision that legalized gay marriage last May.
Opponents of Proposition 8 say it is an
illegal revision to the state constitution and not an amendment at
all. Because it takes away previously granted rights – minority
rights protected by the constitution – it fundamentally alters the
document. They contend
that only the Legislature has the right to place such a question
before the voters.
Passage of Proposition 8 sparked huge
gay rights protests, heated debates, boycotts and even political
retribution for people on both sides of the issue.
Will the court side with popular will
or, having already tagged marriage as a fundamental right, move to
strike the anti-gay measure?
Most court observers agree the seven
justices appeared to be leaning in favor of upholding Proposition 8
during oral arguments in March. But a lot has happened during the
intervening months that could influence the court's decision.
For instance, a sweeping gay marriage
decision by the Iowa Supreme Court borrowed heavily from the court's
original opinion. And lawmakers in three states – Vermont, Maine
and New Hampshire – approved gay marriage bills. (The
New Hampshire House recently rejected changes to the gay marriage
bill asked for by Governor John Lynch, leaving the legislation in
But whatever decision is handed down,
it will certainly not be the final say on the matter. Both sides
believe influential and populous California is too big a prize to let
go. The only question to be answered Tuesday by the court is
whether voters will face a pro- or anti- gay marriage initiative in