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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Opponents of Proposition 8, California's anti-gay marriage bill, Ben, 9, (R) Sophie, 10, (L) and their mother Ellen Evans celebrate at Los Angeles City Hall on February 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the voter-approved Proposition 8 measure violates the civil rights of gay men and lesbians (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to weigh in on another controversial topic: gay marriage. Backers of the ballot measure that put a halt to gay marriage in California are asking justices to review a lower court’s ruling that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
Same sex marriages were outlawed by the California legislature in 1977 and again in 2000 by ballot proposition.
In the spring of 2008, the California Supreme Court said those laws violate the state’s constitution. That ruling opened the door to same sex marriages. An estimated 18,000 gay or lesbian couples said “I do” following the ruling. Six months later the door slammed shut when a majority of California voters approved Proposition 8. The issue has been working its way through federal courts ever since.
Two summers ago, a district court struck down Prop 8. Two of the three judges on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel later agreed, saying the ban lessens “the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians” by reclassifying their relationships as inferior.
Now, the backers of Prop 8 are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make the final decision. Justices have never heard oral arguments on gay marriage. But 40 years ago, they upheld a lower court ruling that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a “fundamental right” for same-sex couples to marry.
Justices may also take a look at another gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. It's the federal statute that defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. Today, a federal court judge in Connecticut ruled the act is discriminatory because it denies federal benefits to same-sex couples married in states where same sex marriages are legal. This is the fifth time lower courts have ruled against DOMA.