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California Supreme Court considering pivotal issue in gay marriage legal fight today


The California Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Wednesday to deal with a pressing question in the legal battle over gay marriage in California.

The justices will review a request by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors have the legal standing to defend the ballot measure that reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8 in August, ruling after a 12-day trial that the 2008 ballot measure violated equal-protection guarantees under the U.S. Constitution. Experts testified during the trial that one's sexual orientation was largely fixed and that matrimony benefits the families of gays and lesbians.

State officials refused to appeal the ruling. Now the 9th Circuit must determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors, ProtectMarriage.com, have legal standing to challenge the trial court's decision.

Depending on the state high court's ruling, the 9th Circuit could either dismiss the appeal on procedural grounds -- limiting the case's effect to California -- or rule on federal constitutional questions that would affect same-sex marriage throughout the country.


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Photo: Both sides battle during the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (29)

So what have they been doing since December? Justice delayed is justice denied.

There is precedent in countries like Canada and Spain and South Africa and the state of MA, that marriage equality for gay people is a GOOD thing. Prop. 8 supporters didn't allow equal marriage in CA to take hold long enough to know that not only was no harm done to marriage, but Prop. 8 doesn't PROTECT marriage, it's intents and purpose WHATSOEVER.
Prop. 8 and the fight against it, has been a long, expensive exercise that proves something even more important: that the war on gay people does nothing to improve anything, but is a detriment to gay people without any good reason for that to happen. The constant demand to put up gay lives to a popular vote in a society UNNATURALLY taught to distrust and be hostile to gay people wouldn't be right no matter what the context or reason.

I've asked this question, and only DECENT, the really decent know the answer. Those who are not, never bother to answer. But anyone is free to. And those who insist that discrimination against gay people is a good thing and demand to be the ones to decide such a thing, MUST answer this question.

The question is simple:

What individual, nation or society has EVER suffered for the expansion of equality and justice to those previously without it?

Jeez, it's time. Onward to full marriage equality rights now. Period.

Cheers, Joe Msutich, CT Justice of the Peace,
Red Studio Farm, Washington Green, CT USA.

Enough with the marriage police, they are so 2oth century....

I took them two months to decide this?

Dems in the California Legislature should just enact a law legalizing gay marriage and be done with it. To those that say, "oh but the voters approved a ban," I say you could get voters to apporva a whole host of unconstitutional amendments, that doesn't make it moral or just. I'm sure every Christian defender of the institution of marriage would vote to have a consitutional amendment to ban divorce in order to protect the sanctity of marriage - that doesn't make it constitutional.

I pray the CASC decline the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals request so that only Federal law would apply. Then marriage for same sex couples would be legal in CA but, not the rest of the nation.

Gays do have full right to marry. The right to marry someone of the opposite sex, if they choose not to that is their choice. Marriage was designed for added security for children and families- not to legitimize a sexual relationship which would be tantamount to adding legal protections to relationships based on other hobbies like tennis partners.

"What individual, nation or society has EVER suffered for the expansion of equality and justice to those previously without it? "

Ask the Romans about allowing "barbarians" to join the legions and then become citizens. Ask something tough. Geez!

Not sure how Prop. * is unconstittuional except in the eyes of people with an agenda

The only people against gay marriage could only be people who don't think they know any gay people! But they do! They just don't know it. The only difference between gay and straight people is what they do in their bedrooms. Apparently people against gay marriage spend way too much time thinking about other peoples' sex lives. Mind your own business! If gay people want to get married and be as cranky as the rest of us, I say good and it's time to make it legal everywhere.

The good news Josh, is that soon your straw man arguments will be able to marry each other.

@Josh S...thanks for your opinion....but living my life by your standards wether high or low would be a waste of my life....I don't impose my beliefs on you and your family and would expect the same respect from you.....marraige is a contract between two people, holy matrimony is a religious ceremony between two people.....let people make their own choices...it should make no difference to you!

Since civil unions can be structured to give the same rights as Gay marriage, this has nothing to do with civil rights.

If people of the same sex are given the right to legally marry, then a person should have the right to legally marry as many people as the want. Also, men should have the right to marry any woman that is old enough to bare children. Women should have the right to marry any man that is old enough to father children. If we are going to start insisting that government regulate every type of behavior and choice, maybe we should all become libertarian.

If the People had intended for the Prop 8 proponents to have standing to appeal in Federal court, they would have included language in the initiative granting them the authority to defend the initiative on behalf of the State.

Perhaps at only 14 words, Prop 8 wasn't the most legally sound amendment.

The term Marriage has come out of religious texts such as the Bible; it has always been defined as between a Man and a Woman. Changing this definition, tramples on religious freedom, for it gives pressure for religious organizations to change how they view marriage, making it more difficult for Religions to teach to their children and others their religious conviction marriage is between a Man and a Woman. Civil Unions can be structured to give the same rights as Marriage; the Gay Marriage debate is not about Civil Rights, but everything to do with forcing changes to peoples religious beliefs.

The argument in this issue is really a moot point. Quite simply, no one, no citizen in the United States of American can be denied this most basic right. Are we really prepared to return to "selective" citizenship? I grew up in a segregated culture here in the Southern states. Will those that would seek to deny ANY American this civil right, please adopt another issue to fight. Maybe all redneck bigated, citizens should have some of their rights denied.

Robert and Josh obviously need to do a little homework on civil rights in this country. The courts decided last century that equal rights not actually equal in practice are not acceptable. When they tried to say that everyone had the same right to a (then all-white) jury, the courts said no. When they tried to say a person could marry anyone within their own race, the courts said no. Sex has no more bearing on whether or not two people should be able to form a legal contract than race.

"But kids and families...!" Yes, gay people have these, too, and it's sick how thoughtlessly you'd take from them!

When you use the word marriage, the only union that pops into my head is between a man and a woman. This whole issue is trying to change the meaning of the word "marriage" into something that is totally different. This would make me ask such questions; Hi, how are you? Are you married? If so, I can't ask a man if his wife is doing well. I can't ask a woman if her husband is doing well. We are now subject to be politically correct as to reference a spouse without knowing their gender orientation because the law decided to change the word "marriage". This is not only going to change this society that we built, but only to tear it down and change definitions of all words that we have freely used in the past. What is the point of wearing a wedding ring or a wedding band if it does not denote that you are married to a man or a woman, respectively? How confusing does society need to be to second guess what you say? If I did make the mistake of calling a man a wife then would I be subject to discrimination? How absurb! We need to maintain our moral society.

No, No, No. You don't understand, Josh is right. Marriage is for the family. That's why is should be legal for gays to marry: it supports families!

It's just that Josh wants to define which families he wants to help, and I will not allow that to happen, unless he lets me decide who HE marries.

Sun Lee, people adapt. And it's time for yo too. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Either way you're gonna change your mind willingly or unwillingly.

@ cbk16:

You are absolutely right. And what is going to come out of this debate is the only thing that can. The states will get out of the marriage business. "Marriage" is a religious ceremony. NOT a legal one. Civil Unions should provide the equal protections and benefits under the law and be available to all CONSENTING adults who choose to join their lives. The word "consenting" should waylay the idiots who try to argue that this will allow people to marry animals and other stupid and paranoid arguments.

If a couple wishes to get "married," then they can truck themselves down to the nearest church and get married under the rules of that particular church. But they would also need to do a Civil Union to have the legal rights and protections. Constitutionally, those must be available to all citizens. Gay or straight.

This is the only thing that the courts can decide that is constitutional. The churches maintain the rights to have their own private club rules and the government is no longer discriminating against 10% of the population.

'Nuff said.

cbk16; First of all marriage is a civil function and existed long before religions co-opted it. Marriage existed in Rome and Greece long before Christianity and when Judaism was a little known sect. To claim that marriage came from religion is to be totally ignorant of the history of marriage. Before the Justian code (527-565) a simple statement that you were married was sufficient. Catholic marriage celebrated in a Catholic church by a priest with two witnesses only became enforced with the Council of Trent in 1563. Marriage has existed in cultures such as China and Japan where Christianity was not introduced until relatively recently Even now in those countries your bible and it's myths hold little sway. But since you go on about how Gay marriage infringes on your religious freedoms, what about those religions that want to preform Gay marriage. Are you not infringing on their freedoms, to do so? Sorry but Gay marriage does not keep you from practicing your religion. Should we all be forbidden to eat pork, because the Jews and Muslims do not eat it? How will they explain the fact that a store sells pork to their children? Does that not infringe on their right to live a pork free existence.? If you think the last few sentences are ridicules, then perhaps you should realize what you said is too.
Sun Lee; sorry that you are so limited in the usages of the term marriage but it has many meanings. Ask a plumber what it means to marry a pipe. Language is a fluid thing, many words change meaning over time. Very often the way a word is used now days is the opposite of the way it was originally used. Look at the word nice which originally meant foolish. Or husband (one of those words you have difficulty with) which comes from Old German hus (house) bunda (owner) and had nothing to do with martial status (except being a home owner made them a desirable marriage partner, but it did not make them one). A gay man does not refer to his partner as his wife but as his husband. Just like a lesbian refers to her partner as her wife. That is a straight fantasy that one partner in a same sex relationship is the women and the other is the man.

Kind of torn between wanting to fight this all the way to Supreme Court by allowing the hate-mongers to continue their fight against equality OR simply disqualifying them as the fanatics they are thereby ensuring equality here in California but not having the landmark case move forward.

Short and sweet.
"one nation under GOD"
is not under GOD with such an issue.

More than seven months after Republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a similar measure, civil-unions supporters celebrated at the state Capitol because the Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill that clears the way for same-sex couples to receive virtually all the same rights and benefits of traditional marriage.

By a vote of 18-5, the chamber approved Senate Bill 232, legalizing civil unions in Hawaii.

The measure now goes to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions and has promised to sign the bill into law.

By law, the governor has 10 days from the time the bill reaches his desk to decide on the bill, putting his deadline on or about March 3.

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