Read the full Prop. 8 ruling from the 9th Circuit Court (documents)

#Prop8 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court

Some notable parts of the decision:

* It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain from the State, or any other authorized part, an important right — the right to obtain and use the designation of 'marriage' to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.

* Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for 'laws of this sort.'

* We need not and do not answer the broader question in this case, however, because California had already extended to committed same-sex couples both the incidents of mariage and the official designation of 'marriage,' and Proposition *'s only effect was to take away that important and legally significant designation, while leaving in place all of its incidents. This unique and strictly limited effect of Proposition 8 allows us to address the amendment's constitutionality on narrow grounds.

* ...In a suit for an injunction against enforcement of an allegedly unconstitutional state law, it makes no practical difference whether the formal party before the court is the state itself or a state officer in his official capacity.

* All that matters, for federal standing purposes, is that the People have an interest in the validity of Proposition 8 and that, under California law, Proponents are authorized to represent the People's interest. That is the case here.

* 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.

* That designation is important because 'marriage' is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of 'registered domestic partnership' does not.

* As Proponents have admitted, "the word 'marriage' has a unique meaning," and "there is a significant symbolic disparity between a domestic partnership and marriage." It is the designation of 'marriage itself that expresses validation, by the state and the community, and that serves as a symbol, like a wedding ceremony or a wedding ring, of something profoundly important.

* We do not celebrate when two people merge their bank accounts; we celebrate when a couple marries. The designation of 'marriage is the status we recognize.

* Before Proposition 8, California guaranteed gays and lesbians both the incidents and the status and dignity of marriage. Proposition 8 left the incidents but took away the status and the dignity.

* Proposition 8 in no way alters the state laws the govern childrearing and procreation. It makes no change with respect to the laws regarding family structure. As before Proposition 8, those laws apply in the same way to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships and to married couples. Only the designation of 'marriage' is withdrawn and only from one group of individuals.

* It in implausible to think that denying two men or two women the right to call themselves married could somehow bolster the stability of families headed by one man and one woman.

* By withdrawing the availability of the recognized designation of 'marriage,' Proposition 8 enacts nothing more or less than a judgment about the worth and dignity of gays and lesbians as a class.

* Proposition 8 therefore violates the Equal Protection Clause.

* His [Chief Judge Walker] resolution of the issue on the basis of the facts was not illogical, implausible, or without support in inferences that may be drawn from facts in the record. Thus, we affirm, Chief Judge Ware's decision not to grant the motion to vacate.

From the dissenting opinion from Judge Smith:

* Our personal views regarding the political and sociological debate on marriage equality are irrelevant to our task. Instead, we are only asked to consider the constitutional validity of Proposition 8 under the federal Constitution.

* Put otherwise, Proposition 8 does not burden gays and lesbians to the same extent Amendment 2 burdened gays and lesbians in Colorado.

* Given the presumption of validity accorded Proposition 8 for rational basis review, I am not convinced that Proposition 8 lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.

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