Foes of gay marriage appeal Prop. 8 ruling to U.S. Supreme Court
Opponents of same-sex marriage asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to overturn a federal appeals court decision that struck down Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman.
Protect Marriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8, called February’s 2-1 decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “misguided.”
“Our Constitution does not mandate the traditional definition of marriage, but neither does our Constitution condemn it,” the group’s petition to the high court said. “Rather, it leaves the definition of marriage in the hands of the people, to be resolved through the democratic process in each state.”
Charles J. Cooper, Protect Marriage’s lead attorney in the case, said he was confident the Supreme Court would grant the review.
“The Supreme Court has made it very clear that the age-old definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is constitutional as a matter of state public policy,” Cooper said. “The lower court decisions essentially rejected all relevant Supreme Court and appellate court precedent while attacking the character and judgment of millions of Californians.”
The 9th Circuit ruling against Proposition 8 was narrowly written and applied only to California. Rather than expand the rights of gays and lesbians, the majority based its decision a 1996 Supreme Court precedent that said a majority may not take away a minority's rights without legitimate reasons.
The lawyers for two same-sex couple who challenged Proposition 8 in federal court said they would oppose review by the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court has long held that the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights -- if not the most fundamental right -- of all Americans,” said attorney David Boies. “Today’s petition presents the justices with the chance to affirm our Constitution’s central promises of liberty, equality, and human dignity.”
A decision to review a lower court ruling requires four votes by the high court. The 9th Circuit's ruling has been put on hold pending the appeal.
-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco
Photo: Ken Pierce of Equality Action Now waves a rainbow flag outside a San Francisco courthouse in December 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times