Same-sex marriage must await appeal process

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Proposition 8, California’s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional, but that doesn’t mean same-sex couples can marry just yet.

The 2-1 ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a previous ruling in 2010, but will not allow same-sex couples to marry in California if proponents of the ban appeal the decision.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose,” the ruling’s majority opinion stated, “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 as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

Proponents of Proposition 8 can appeal the decision in an en banc hearing of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or by appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An en banc hearing would involve an 11-judge panel from the appeals court deciding the case.

Although an appeal is likely, both courts are not required to hear the case.

Hank Fradella, Cal State Long Beach criminal justice department chair, said, if the appeal is heard, Tuesday’s decision will most likely result in more waiting for those on either side of the issue.

“We don’t know if [the U.S. Supreme Court] will issue a narrow decision based on the merits of California law,” Fradella said. “[Or] if they will use broader legal principles under the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution — then it will have national implications.”

Supporters of same-sex marriage are cautiously optimistic about the news. Melissa Morin, CSULB LGBT student resource center assistant, said that the decision is a baby step toward same-sex marriage and that the battle is far from over.

“We’re excited, but at the same time we’re tired,” Morin said. “We’ve been waiting a long time to see where it’s going to go.”

The issue of same-sex marriage is an especially important issue to Morin because she would like to get married soon.

“I’d like to get married within the next year or so, but I’d like it to be legal, and not a domestic partnership,” Morin said.

Gustavo Neri, a studio art senior at CSULB, said he agrees with the court’s decision, and that Proposition 8, has the potential to cause a chain reaction of similar bills passing that would restrict equal rights.

“I feel that society should keep moving forward, and continue to allow people to share the same freedoms as others,” Neri said.

If the ruling holds, California will be among six states — New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa — as well as Washington, D.C., that allow gay marriage.

Roughly 18,000 same-sex couples were married during the brief window of opportunity before Proposition 8 was passed in 2008. These marriages will remain unaffected by the decision of the courts.


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