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Court: Same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

Same-sex marriage supporters wave a rainbow flag in front of the US Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage supporters wave a rainbow flag in front of the US Supreme Court.
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

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Today, a federal appeals court ruled that California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The ruling states: "Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted."

Backers of Proposition 8 said they would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling.

"No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people,'' said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals first heard arguments more than year ago. It had been weighing whether the trial judge should have disclosed his own same-sex relationship before the first court challenge began. Additionally, the three-judge panel considered whether backers of Proposition 8 have legal standing in the case – a position they've assumed because the state declined to fight against gay rights activists.

Prop 8 watchers were eager to hear this ruling, they even parsed yesterday's two-sentence announcement for any significance. It stated: "The Court anticipates filing an opinion tomorrow (Tuesday, February 7) by 10:00 a.m. in Perry v. Brown..., regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgment in the case. A summary of the opinion prepared by court staff will be posted along with the opinion." Some analysts took this to mean the judges chose to accept the legal standing of the Proposition 8 interveners and ignored the sexual orientation of the trial judge.

With files from the Associated Press




“AirTalk” wants to hear your reaction to the ruling. What will be the scope of the ruling? How long until this case reaches its final conclusion? What is the status of same-sex marriage laws around the country and federally?




Julie Small, KPCC’s State Capital Reporter

Rick Jacobs, Founder & Chair, The Courage Campaign

John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, Former Dean and Professor, Chapman University School of Law

Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law

Read the full text of the Ninth Circuit's decision here.