IAN HEDGES, News Editor
In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a California ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in 2008 was unconstitutional. The court declared that Proposition 8’s intent to deny civil marriage rights to some individuals was a violation of the 14th Amendment. Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing the majority opinion, wrote that “Proposition 8 served 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 court ruled in a separate decision that the ruling that originally annulled Proposition 8 by Judge Vaughn R. Walker in 2010 could not be invalidated. Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that the decision by Judge Walker should be overturned because he had revealed after his ruling that he had been in a relationship with a man for 10 years. The appeals court ruled that Judge Walker’s sexuality should not be an issue of bias because he never publicly declared his intent to marry his male partner.
The ruling will be limited to California because it was the only state under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s jurisdiction that had gay marriage and then overturned it through a ballot initiative. Supporters of Proposition 8 have expressed interest to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gay marriages will still be on hold to give the defendants time to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Shortly after the court’s opinion was released, the remaining Republican presidential candidates expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both released statements calling the decision an example of “judicial activism.” Santorum then wrote on Twitter that “the rights of 7 million Californians [who voted for Proposition 8] were stripped away.
In response to the ruling, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that “divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights to same-sex couples is something this president has long opposed.” Since campaigning in 2008, President Barack Obama has stated that he supports civil unions, but does not support same-sex marriage. Gay marriage advocates believed that President Obama’s view might have changed when he signaled support of New York’s passage of same-sex marriage this past summer. When asked if the president supported marriage equality, Carney said that the president’s personal view of same-sex marriage was “evolving.”
Sources: Associated Press, CNN