Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage Can Challenge California Court Ruling
1 year ago
Supreme court rules backers of Prop 8 can defend initiative
The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that proponents of Proposition 8, a law that ban’s same sex marriage in California, may defend their initiative in a federal court of appeals following a judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.
Proposition 8, passed narrowly by voters in November of 2008, created an amendment to the state Constitution declaring that the state would only recognize marriages between a man and a woman. The vote came after the California Supreme Court had ruled that same-sex couples were allowed to marry under California law.
Last August, a federal judge declared the law unconstitutional, ruling that the proposition violated the equal protection and rights of gay and lesbian couples in California. The case is now pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Since the ruling, California Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials have declined to defend the law's constitutionality, which is why the proponents of Proposition 8 want to take matters into their own hands and defend the initiative themselves in federal court.
The State Supreme Court’s ruling addresses the issue of whether or not the initiative’s supporters have the “standing” to defend the law in the federal court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In its decision, the court ruled that “barring the backers of the proposition from appearing in court would deprive the majority of Californians who voted for it a fair day in court.” However, it did not rule on the legality of same-sex marriage or on the merits of whether the law is unconstitutional.
As the Capital Bee’s Capitol Alert wrote, "the state court can't tell the federal court what to do, of course, but the federal court may consider the state court's opinion when deciding who can defend it before the federal bench."