Proposition 8, the controversial gay marriage ban approved by California voters in the November 2008 general election, has been working its way through the courts. Today the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released its opinion on Prop 8 by asking the California Supreme Court to consider a matter of standing.
Confused? Court cases can be hard to understand when different courts and various appeals are involved, so let's start with some background information to simplify what the latest court ruling means.
In August 2010, Proposition 8 was overturned in federal court by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Judge Walker's decision declared Prop 8 unconstitutional and gave LGBT couples the right to marry. Judge Walker's decision was then frozen in a stay by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
In December 2010, a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit Court heard arguments from supporters of Prop 8 who opposed Judge Walker's decision. These supporters were Project Marriage, a conservative religious coalition that put Prop 8 on the November 2008 ballot, and Imperial County.
The Ninth Circuit Court today ruled that Imperial County has no standing or no legal ground to appeal Judge Walker's decision to overturn Prop 8.
Furthermore, the Ninth Circuit Court asked the California Supreme Court to consider whether Project Marriage has the standing to appeal the case.
Some legal scholars feel that only former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then Attorney General Jerry Brown had the right to appeal Judge Walker's decision to overturn Prop 8. Both Schwarzenegger and Brown refused to defend Prop 8 in court.
If it is determined by the California Supreme Court that Project Marriage does not have the legal standing to appeal Judge Walker's decision, Prop 8 would be overturned.
The next step? We are waiting for the State Supreme Court to schedule a hearing.
In Los Angeles, voters generally consider Prop 8 to be a violation of civil rights. When Prop 8 was passed in November 2008, over 2,000 people took to the streets in protest in the Los Angeles area. In August 2010 a demonstration was held in the Los Angeles area when Judge Walker's decision that LGBT couples could marry was frozen.
For more information, go to the Courage Campaign Prop 8 Trial Tracker.