by Jeremy Leaming
In a striking, though perhaps short-lived, victory for marriage equality, a federal appeals court panel invalidated California’s infamous Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that had overturned same-sex marriage in the state.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2 -1 today that the anti-equality measure “served no purpose, and no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The Ninth Circuit majority concluded that Prop. 8 subverts the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Prop. 8 was passed, with the backing of religious right organizations, not long after the California Supreme Court ruled that a right to wed could not be denied to same-sex couples, and that doing so would violate the equal protection rights of lesbians and gay men. Prop. 8 amended the state constitution to bar same-sex marriage.
The majority opinion in Perry v. Brown, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt (pictured) upheld a lower federal court ruling by retired federal judge, Vaughn R. Walker, which invalidated Prop. 8.
“Proposition 8 worked a singular and limited change to the California Constitution: it stripped same-sex couples of the right to have their committed relationships recognized by the State with the designation of ‘marriage,’ which the state constitution had previously guaranteed them, while leaving in place all of their other rights and responsibilities as partners – rights and responsibilities that are identical to those of married spouses and form an integral part of the marriage relationship,” Reinhardt wrote.
Prop. 8 also resulted in an ignoble state constitutional rule that protected marriage only for straight couples, Reinhardt said.
“In adopting the amendment, the People simply took the designation of ‘marriage’ away from lifelong same-sex partnerships, and with it the State’s authorization of that official status and the societal approval that comes with it,” Reinhardt wrote.