Southland activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate will learn Tuesday the next twist in the saga of Proposition 8, with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals expected to issue its ruling on the constitutionality of the ballot issue that prevented same-sex weddings in California.
The federal appeals court is reviewing a lower court's ruling that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional. The case has been pending for months, including a delay while it awaited a ruling from the state Supreme Court on whether proponents of Prop. 8 had legal standing to appeal the ruling. The Supreme Court eventually said they do.
In March 2000, California voters approved Prop. 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional, because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Prop. 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
The approval of the measure led to statewide protests and lawsuits challenging the legality of Prop. 8.
In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8, but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 would remain valid.
Same-sex marriage supporters took their case to federal court, and U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that Prop. 8 "both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
Backers of Prop. 8 (ProtectMarriage.com) , because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to do so. The appellate court heard arguments last year, but put a decision on hold while it awaited the state Supreme Court's ruling on the ability of Prop. 8 backers to press the case forward.
Once the state Supreme Court decided that Prop. 8 supporters had legal standing, the 9th Circuit moved ahead with its consideration of the case, hearing more arguments in December on a motion by Prop. 8 backers asking that Vaughn's ruling be thrown out because the judge was in a long-term same-sex relationship that he had not disclosed.
ProtectMarriage.com attorney Andy Pugno said California voters who supported Prop. 8 should not be invalidated "based on just one judge's opinion."