California Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

The California Supreme Court has overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage in a 4-3 decision:

The California Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting state marriage laws as discriminatory.

[…]

The long-awaited court opinion, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, stemmed from San Francisco’s highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights.

The dissenters preferred to leave the matter up to the legislature and the voters (November ballot initiative would add the ban to the Constitution).

Apparently my memory is faulty, as I thought I voted ‘Nay’ on a California Constitutional amendment years ago. A quick check today confirmed that that initiative simply defined marriage as between a man and a woman. So, absent a Constitutional ban, the state Supreme Court was free to strike down the existing statutory ban.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , ,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Charlotte says:

    This is fantastic news!! Now maybe the country will begin to understand that marriage is a basic civil right. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue:) http://www.OUTTAKEonline.com

  2. Len says:

    The dissenters preferred to leave the matter up to the legislature

    The California legislature has twice passed legislation legalizing gay marriage in California, and Governor Schwarzenegger has twice vetoed it. He said he wanted it left up to the courts.

    Now that the Supreme Court has agreed with the legislature, the governor has said he will not support the right’s attempt at a constitutional amendment.

    Of course, the right is lamenting this as the decision of an “activist court.” Seems an activist court is any court that does not agree with them.
    (Six of the seven justices on the California Supreme Court are Republicans.)

  3. joe says:

    I hope people don’t celebrate too much, as this issue isn’t over yet. Odds are there will be appeals to the Federal Courts, and this issue will undoubtedly go all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Shameful though that politicians don’t want to go on record and pass legislation dealing with this issue. This will however create an entirely new area of law, same-sex marriages, divorces, estates, child abuse, etc. There isn’t a ton of case law on gay-marriage, so the next five to ten years will see an entirely new field open up.

  4. Dodd says:

    Doubtful. This is a State SupCt ruling interpreting that State’s Constitution. Unless there’s a federal Constitutional violation involved (which there isn’t), the US SupCt has no reason to hear it.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    This is probably exactly how the ban proponents expected this to go. First pass the voter initiated law and then when it doesn’t get through the courts there will be a solid basis for a more permanent constitutional amendment. The argument that it now deserves a constitutional amendment is strong enough for likely passage. On an issue like this the Governor’s endorsement or opposition means little.

    With the legislature and courts ignoring the voter’s will the campaign has an advantage it would not have had if it originally tried for an amendment. I expect the constitutional ban to pass.

  6. floyd says:

    Charlotte;
    I took the 9.5 minutes to watch your video. I saw nothing but unfounded opinion, certainly nothing that could be considered educational or even persuasive on the subject.
    Perhaps “provocative” would be a more fair description of a content based entirely on emotion.
    Now it’s your turn to take 9.5 minutes and consider whether it is fair to claim that everyone who disagrees with you is a closed minded insane bigot.

  7. yetanotherjohn says:

    Given the history of gay marriage bans at the ballot box, could this put California in play for the GOP?

  8. c. wagener says:

    Is polygamy a constitutional right also? I would have to think so based on the court’s logic. Since California’s domestic partner laws are already extensive, the primary value of the court’s decision is to slowly define marriage as being meaningless.

    If the state has a motivation to encourage any behavior from its citizens it is strong marriage between men and women who produce and raise children. Granting rights to roommates who have sex is considerably less valuable.

  9. Eneils Bailey says:

    Dodd,
    I agree with you.

    This is a State SupCt ruling nterpreting that State’s Constitution. Unless there’s a federal Constitutional violation involved (which there isn’t), the US SupCt has no reason to hear it.

    There is absolutely nothing in the US Constitution that dictates social behavior. That is left up to the states. If California wants to allow same sex marriages, that is fine with me. If I lived in a state that will grant a state marriage certificate to two and/or more same-sex individuals, pets, and mechanical devices who want to join in a legal coupling, I will oppose it.

    States have every right, based on our US Constitution, though enumerated powers to have absolute control of marriages and other social behavior. I guess you could get a Justice like Ruth Bader Ginsberg to look for some foreign loophole or an interpretation from some obscure foreign country to bolster her illogical social and legal reasoning.

    What drives me crazy is US citizens, who have never read the Constitution, don’t understand it, and are willing to accept these rulings as the power of the federal government. The Constitution recognized the “unalienable rights” of it’s citizens. Therefor, authority should not be exerted over us, but we should limit and question what 535 congress-critters and 9 ex-lawyers want to do to us.

    “If you found yourself a catch, and the personal plumbing doesn’t match, move to San Francisco.”

  10. Len says:

    same-sex individuals, pets, and mechanical devices

    So in your mind homosexuals are on equal footing with pets and mechanical devices?

    Interesting.

    Please don’t tell us what you think of people whose skin color or language happens to differ from yours. I really don’t think we want to know.

    “If you found yourself a catch, and the personal plumbing doesn’t match, move to San Francisco.”

    You really think it’s all about sex? Is that all you can think about? Sex. Sex. Sex. Get your mind out of the gutter, pervert. Some of us have lives outside the bedroom (or, in your case, the dungeon in the basement).

    Sheesh.

  11. just me says:

    I don’t see any reason for Federal courts to get involved.

    I do wonder if the decision won’t fire up support for the amendment though. But I am not sure California at this point in time will pass this amendment-but maybe my perception of California voters is skewed by by media cover of issues out there.

  12. Bandit says:

    Now maybe the country will begin to understand that marriage is a basic civil right.

    Much like the basic right to gov’t health care and indoor plumbing.

  13. nicestrategy says:

    McCain cannot win California. Bush and his war are reviled here, there is no way to remove that stain. I suppose whipping up a culture war against California might help McCain in other States, but there is a real danger of them winning the battle but losing the war. Being the party uncomfortable with diversity is not a winning strategy in the long run. Gays may not be popular, but there are people who aren’t all that sympathetic to gays who will be even less sympathetic to yet another round of political opportunism in the context of war and economic uncertainty. And then there is the younger generation, far more tolerant than their elders, who are growing up just fine, becoming healthy young adults while rolling their eyes at all the antigay drama from the sex police.

    The ballot proposition might pass, but times have changed since the statutory initiative passed 60-40. The issue now polls close to 50/50. As mentioned, the legislature voted twice to legalize gay marriage, which the governor vetoed. Now, Schwartzenegger says he will enforce the court’s ruling and opposes the amending the State Constitution. A bunch of people will be getting married this summer.

    Even IF a majority votes to forcibly divorce thousands of couples and amend the CA Constitution, how long will that last? 5 years? 10?

    Many opponents of gay marriage appear to sincerely believe that gay people are a threat. To what, exactly, I won’t ever understand. 3-5% of the population being much happier people doesn’t threaten the remainder of the population or their families or their choices. Yes, some prefer civil unions for gays and ‘marriage’ being reserved by the State for straight couples as a symbolic marker of superiority, and they aren’t all haters. Will they vote with the unhinged religious right when their gay neighbors, friends, and co-workers make it obvious that this is just way more important to us than it is to them? That didn’t happen with the previous proposition, which was a DOMA preempting full faith and credit clause claims that could flow from other States.

    At some level I wish the court had stayed out of this and let more consensus build. Ruling or not, ballot proposition or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear who is on the wrong side of history in this debate. This might be a push in the right direction, or it might provoke a temporary backlash that complicates and delays the eventual outcome. But in either case, I am grateful to the many people in this country that have taken a 2nd look at their prejudices. The fear and loathing I felt 25 years ago has been replaced by hope. It felt like my life was going to be ruined by this force beyond my control and other people’s hate. It wasn’t. We came out of the closet and let people see us in all our humanity, and it worked.

    YAY!!!!!!

  14. davod says:

    Fear of Diversity? What is diversity? Whatever you think it is.

  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    You really think it’s all about sex? Is that all you can think about? Sex. Sex. Sex. Get your mind out of the gutter, pervert. Some of us have lives outside the bedroom (or, in your case, the dungeon in the basement).

    Dude it has nothing to do with sex lol how many gay folks do you know?

    Dude when you spend lots of time with a person of the same sex without having sex its called friend.

    It has got to do with pick a deferent term and leave marriage alone, even that I thinks its wrong, if you folks need to have a union why marriage?

    if you want to spend you life with a same sex partner can’t you figure out another way.

    and what exactly do you got against dungeon sex mister open mind?

    lol dragons need love too!!!!

  16. floyd says:

    Nicestrategy;
    Great comment! Subtle and sincere!
    Unfortunately you use words like diversity when you mean “intolerant new paradigm” in which you feel free to refer to Christians with the kind of hateful intolerance formerly reserved for “Kristol-nacht”.
    If you seek an “inclusive” world, perhaps it is time to take a “2nd look” at your own prejudices, but then maybe that’s just part of our common humanity??