California Supreme Court strikes down the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

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    May 15, 2008 5:18 PM GMT
    Calif. Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban
    SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) ― The California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision Thursday that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

    The high court announced the opinion on its Web site in the morning.

    Gay-rights organizations like Equality California called it a historical decision by the court.

    The court ruled the state's one man-one woman marriage laws violate the civil rights of same-sex couples.

    Justices ruled in favor of gay and lesbian couples, the city of San Francisco and two gay rights advocacy groups who filed suits that were consolidated.

    With Thursday's ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, California becomes the second state after Massachusetts where gays and lesbians can legally wed.

    The court's seven justices had appeared closely divided on the issue during the three-hour hearing on March 4.

    The legal proceedings were set in motion after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples in early 2004. The licenses were later ruled invalid by a judge.

    Same-sex marriage supporters had argued that a right to same-sex marriage is provided by the state constitutional guarantees of equal protection, privacy and a fundamental right to marry.

    State attorneys defending California laws had claimed that opposite-sex marriage was deeply rooted in tradition and the state's domestic partnership system provided nearly equal rights -- an argument a majority of the court rejected.

    Meanwhile, a voter initiative that would make opposite-sex marriage part of the California Constitution, rather than a law, may be on the statewide ballot in November.

    A constitutional amendment measure providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California has been submitted, but is in the process of having signatures verified, according to the office of Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
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    May 15, 2008 5:33 PM GMT
    ahem, pardon me but... YIPPY SKIPPY!!!

    That is awesome! Congrats Californians.
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    May 15, 2008 5:40 PM GMT
    Fuck yeah! We did it!!! Finally!! I know my mans lookin down from heaven grinning from ear to ear today
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    May 15, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    Unfortunately this could mean a supreme court battle. Time for a change nationwide if you ask me.
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    May 15, 2008 5:48 PM GMT
    DJBens77 saidUnfortunately this could mean a supreme court battle. Time for a change nationwide if you ask me.


    More than likely, but it's the first step.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 15, 2008 5:51 PM GMT
    A quote from the opinion:

    [W]e conclude that the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples embodied in California's current marriage statutes -- the interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage -- cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest. A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples. Second, retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples. Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise -- now emphatically rejected by this state -- that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects "second-class citizens" who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.

    I am actually crying right now...
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    May 15, 2008 6:10 PM GMT
    This is monumental, considering that the court made this ruling with domestic partnerships for gay couples already being part of the political landscape. While the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts was clarified after the fact on the matter of civil unions versus marriage--and without a framework for civil unions within the state--this decision makes the statement, in the face of statutes giving gay couples near-equal rights that are already on the books even in the state of California, that separate institutions are inherently unequal.

    What a great day for Californians and the gay community everywhere.
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    May 15, 2008 6:21 PM GMT
    There's not much more to be said other than hazaaa! And as Chewey points out, it's great to see an acknowledgement that "civil unions" are second-class.

    The minority opinions make are a very interesting read, though. Interestingly, their argument seems to be that courts ought not through their rulings usurp the power of the people, i.e. political initiatives are to be preferred to legislative initiatives. Alas, I don't see many politicians willing to stick their neck out.
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    May 15, 2008 6:37 PM GMT
    Congrats California and yay for Mayor Newsom. ^_^
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    May 15, 2008 6:53 PM GMT
    Now to find someone to marry icon_biggrin.gif
  • irishboxers

    Posts: 357

    May 15, 2008 7:00 PM GMT
    Amen to that! No rush, but I'm just sayin'...
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    May 15, 2008 7:01 PM GMT
    Great news.

    Let's hope that everyone 'sticks to their guns' as the NeoCon right wingnuts and Krazy Kristian Koalition types attempt to use this the thwart another election as they did with the gay marriage amendments in 2004. That trick might have worked when the economy was still decent then...now one has to hope people will vote in their best interests as opposed to their hate. (And that applies to their racist and homophobia if Barack's the Dem nominee!)
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    May 15, 2008 7:09 PM GMT
    this is great, but right now there is a group raising $10 mil to fight this decision
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 15, 2008 7:10 PM GMT
    DJBens77 saidUnfortunately this could mean a supreme court battle. Time for a change nationwide if you ask me.


    If you read the majority opinion, it is riddled with the idea of "separate is inherently unequal" which will be used as the argument before the Supreme Court without a doubt. What was the case that established that? Plessy v. Ferguson? I can't remember...
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    May 15, 2008 7:19 PM GMT
    It's great, isn't it?


  • May 15, 2008 7:22 PM GMT
    Unfortunately, it is quite possible that this will be overturned in November. There is already a petition turned in for a referendum vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in California. Since the ruling of the state supreme court is based on the California constitution, an amendment would supercede the court's decision.

    What will have to happen is a move to the federal courts. Ultimately it's going to have to go up to the Federal Supreme court level, because of the Federal DOMA. This is in process, but it's going to take time. Since there are already a few states which allow gay marriage, people are going to those states, getting married, then returning to their home states and suing them for recognition. The Federal DOMA states that the home states do not have to recognize the marriages performed in other states. This means that the couples are suing based not on federal law, but the Constitution, particuarly the Full Faith and Credit Clause, as well as the fourteenth amendment

    Unfortunately, it is not likely that the Supreme Court will take up the case soon. Since they struck down the sodomy laws a few years ago, they are reluctant to address any more gay issues at the moment.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    May 15, 2008 7:22 PM GMT
    Great, now I just need to find me a husband.

    Actually, marriage is a state issue, not a federal issue. So the US Supreme Court can't change it. But, the Republicans can use this as an issue for McCain on a national level for this year's presidential race (they have before!!!), and of course they could try to enact a constitutional amendment to get this changed on the state level. Gov. Schwarzenegger has just come out (again) against such an amendment and said that he would enforce the Supreme Court's ruling.

    But this is phenomenal news!
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 15, 2008 7:23 PM GMT
    Even if you don't approve of the institution of marriage, the right to be able to get married if you wanted to has got to be the most liberating feeling in the world.
  • SoDakGuy

    Posts: 1862

    May 15, 2008 7:24 PM GMT
    It makes me smile. icon_smile.gif
  • jeepguySD

    Posts: 651

    May 15, 2008 7:25 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidA quote from the opinion:

    ...permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage...


    The fight will not end with the California Supreme Court. The sanctimonious forces of intelerance, bigotry, and hatred will attempt to amend the State's consitition, or override this decision at the Federal level. One of the keys to winning over the majority of the electorate, whom I suspect are fairly moderate, is to make the point that same-sex marriages do not diminish the "insitution" of marriage in any way, as the anti-gay marriage zealots would have everyone believe.

    Still, today's decision is worthy of celebration. If I'm not mistaken Long Beach has their Pride fesitval this weekend - I wonder how many weddings there will be. icon_smile.gif
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    May 15, 2008 7:26 PM GMT
    RunintheCity saidLet's hope that everyone 'sticks to their guns' as the NeoCon right wingnuts and Krazy Kristian Koalition types attempt to use this the thwart another election as they did with the gay marriage amendments in 2004.


    Moreover, John McCain is an adulterer. It is rather hard for him to claim to be a defender of a traditionalist view of marriage!
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    May 15, 2008 7:26 PM GMT
    txguy1605 saidthis is great, but right now there is a group raising $10 mil to fight this decision


    The challenge for gay rights advocates, however, is not over.

    A coalition of religious and social conservative groups is attempting to put a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine laws banning gay marriage in the state constitution.

    The Secretary of State is expected to rule by the end of June whether the sponsors gathered enough signatures to qualify the marriage amendment, similar to ones enacted in 26 other states.

    If voters pass the measure in November, it would trump the court's decision.



    One step at a time. The battle is far from over, but today is a good day for the entire LGBT community in the state of California.
  • olden

    Posts: 194

    May 15, 2008 7:30 PM GMT
    Jarhead, you sure know you Constitutional Law. Plessy, around the turn of the last century, established the "separate but equal" doctrine which lasted until Brown v The Board of Education.

    This is a great ruling, even if it will probably be carried into the US Courts, where I hope "separate but equal" will again be defeated.

    For me, it came about 30 years too late, but I yet may get lucky in my December years.

  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 15, 2008 7:31 PM GMT
    NNJfitandbi saidI don't know anything about the case, so could someone explain how the US Supreme Court could override on the federal level? There is nothing in the federal constitution requiring marriage to be between a man and a woman. Do you mean that the US government will not be required to recognize these marriages?


    A citizen's group could sue the state of California in federal court, or appeal the state Supreme Court decision to the US Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the decision in California. It's going to happen, fear not...

    And no, marriages in CA and MA are not and will not be recognized federally...
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    May 15, 2008 7:32 PM GMT
    Yes, Long Beach pride is this weekend. It's going to be amazing, especially becuase now we have such a huge landmark to celebrate.

    However, we need to be prepared to fight the amendment that will likely be on the ballot this November. If you haven't done so already, donate to HRC's fund to fight this amendment! Even if you're not from California, this amendment will have an effect on how the other states react. As they say...As California goes, so goes the nation.