California Appeals Court Rules Prop 8 Unconstitutional
After a long awaited decision, a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
On Tuesday before 10 a.m., crowds of same sex marriage supporters gathered in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and outside West Hollywood City Hall to hear the court's decision.
The federal appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.
The lower court's ruling was made in August 2010, however, the U.S. District Judge who handed down the decision, Vaughn Walker, later disclosed that he was gay and in a long-term relationship.
Opponents of gay marriage cited this as a conflict of interest, alleging that Judge Walker's decison to overturn Prop 8 was influenced by his own sexual preference. The 9th circuit investigated whether Walker's orientation made him ineligible to hand out a fair ruling, holding a hearing on the issue in December.
Prop 8 banned same sex marriage in California and was passed by voters in November 2008. Five months before voters approved Prop 8, the state's Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. The proposition overuled that decision and banned gay marriage, making it the first ban to take away marriage rights from same sex couples after they had already secured them.
This was highly controversial because supporters claimed the initiative infringed upon same-sex couples' right to get married. They argued that Prop 8 had no purpose but to make gays and lesbians second class citizens.
Although the appeals court upheld the lower court ruling, it may be some time before same sex couples can actually get married in the state.
ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored Proposition 8, is working with the Alliance Defense Fund attorneys and said it will appeal Tuesday's ruling.
“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage--tried in San Francisco--turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum.
“Every pro-marriage American should be pleased that this case can finally go to the full 9th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court."
If the Supreme Court chooses to take on the case, their ruling could be issued as early as next year.