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Answering your questions about Proposition 8 and gay marriage

May 22, 2009 | 11:41 am

Prop8q&A With the California Supreme Court set to rule Tuesday on Proposition 8, Times reporters Rong-Gong Lin II, Jessica Garrison and Maura Dolan are now taking your questions and comments on gay marriage in California. Submit them below. Reporters will post responses periodically over the next few days. On Tuesday, Lin will hold a live chat on L.A. Now after the decision is announced.

What is being decided by the California Supreme Court?

The California Supreme Court will rule on Tuesday whether to uphold or strike down Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The justices will also decide whether the state will continue to recognize or void the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in 2008.

 How did we get to this point?

After San Francisco officials began allowing same-sex couples to wed there in 2004, the courts intervened, invalidating the marriages on grounds that local officials had overstepped their authority. But in May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution protects a fundamental “right to marry” that extends to same-sex couples. That made California the second state in the union, after Massachusetts, to permit same-sex marriage. About 18,000 gay couples were married between June and November, when voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman. Opponents of Proposition 8 appealed to the California Supreme Court to overturn the ballot measure. They contend the proposition changed the tenets of the state Constitution and therefore amounted to a revision, which can only be placed on the ballot by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature; Proposition 8 reached the ballot after a signature drive.

What do legal experts expect the court to do?

Based on comments the justices made at a hearing this year, most legal experts expect the court to uphold Proposition 8, but continue to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who wed before the November election.

If the court upholds Proposition 8, what happens next?

State officials would continue a ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Supporters of same-sex marriage, however, are expected to go back to the ballot as soon as 2010 with another constitutional amendment recognizing gay marriage.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II, Jessica Garrison and Maura Dolan

Submit questions and comments below under COMMENTS.