Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S. Appeal's Court Strikes Down Proposition 8

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that California's Proposition 8 same sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

The opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, concluded that:

"By using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitamite reason for doing so, the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause.  We hold Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on this ground.  We do not doubt the importance of the more general questions presented to us concerning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, nor do we doubt that these questions will likely be resolved in other states, and for the nation as a whole. by other courts.  For now, it suffices to conclude that the People of California may not, consistent with the Federal Constitution, add to their state constitution a provisions that has no more practical effect than to strip gays and lesbians of their right to use the official designation that the State and society give to committed relationships, thereby adversely affecting the status and dignity of the members of a disfavored class."

During its case discussion of the definition of marriage, the court cited Shakespeare, Sinatra, and Groucho Marx:

"We need consider only the many ways in which we ecounter the word 'marriage' in our daily lives and understand it, consciously or not, to convey a sense of significance.  We are regulararly given forms to complete that as us whether we are 'single' or 'married'....We are excited to see someone ask, "Will you marry me?", whether on bended knee in a restaurant or in text splashed across a stadium Jumbotron.  Certainly it would not have the same effect to see "Will you enter into a registered domestic partnership with me?".  Grouch Marx's one-liner, "Marriage is a wonderful institution... but who wants to live in an institution?" would lack its punch if the word 'marriage' were replaced with the alternative phrase.  So too with Shakespeare's "A youn man married is a man that's marr'd," Lincoln's "Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory," and Sinatra's "A man doesn't know what happiness is until he's married.  By then, it's too late.""

The Prop 8 case is now likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration. 

The full case, along with dissent, can be viewed here: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2012/02/07/1016696com.pdf