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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August,16 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 33
It's official: Prop 8 is dead - California Supreme Court drives stake through amendment's heart
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It's official: Prop 8 is dead - California Supreme Court drives stake through amendment's heart

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The California Supreme Court killed Prop 8 once and for all on August 14, with a decision not to issue a writ of mandamus requested by opponents of marriage equality.

Had the state court issued the writ accepting review of the case, Gay and Lesbian marriages, which have resumed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Prop 8 case in June, would have been put back on hold.

Protect Marriage, the group that originally sponsored the ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California, claimed that Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker lacked proper authority to overturn a state constitutional amendment, which was what Prop 8 had been.

Walker's 2010 decision that Prop 8 denied Gay and Lesbian couples their federal equal protection and due process rights set off a chain of legal decisions, but the California court's action now brings the Prop 8 saga to an end, with same-sex marriages legal in the state.

LAST-DITCH APPEAL
The anti-equality group's appeal to the California Supreme Court was their last-ditch effort to void Walker's decision. The state high court previously upheld Prop 8's constitutionality, which led opponents to file a federal appeal.

State officials argued that Protect Marriage's challenge was a veiled attempt to persuade a state court to interfere with a federal judge's order, and that such a move would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Protect Marriage lacked standing to defend the law in federal court, and therefore let Walker's ruling stand without reaching the merits of the case.

Gay and Lesbian couples resumed marrying in California shortly after that, when the Ninth Circuit Court lifted a stay on Walker's decision. Protect Marriage then went back to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Ninth Circuit had acted prematurely, but the Supreme Court refused to intervene.

Then the group went to the state Supreme Court, asking the justices to halt the marriages immediately while considering the legal arguments. The seven-member court unanimously rejected the request for a stay.

A county clerk from San Diego also petitioned the state court to decide whether Proposition 8 remained valid law, but he subsequently withdrew his request after failing to win support from other counties.

ACTIVISTS HAIL RULING
Pro-equality activists reacted with obvious pleasure to the California Supreme Court's decision.

'Prop 8 is dead and never coming back,' HRC President Chad Griffin said.

'As we celebrate this great victory, we remember the 37 other states without marriage equality and the many other corners of our country where there is little to no protection for LGBT people on a range of issues, from workplace discrimination to bullying in schools to the ability to adopt children to access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. All of our energy must be put toward achieving full equality for everyone, everywhere.'

'Today's ruling means that two Supreme Courts, the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court, agree that all loving, committed couples should have the freedom to marry in California,' said Jane Wishon, Marriage Equality USA board president. 'The decision is right as a matter of law and as a matter of love.'

'Today's decision finally marks the end of years of litigation by the Prop 8 proponents to deny the freedom to marry to Lesbian and Gay couples in California, said John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA legal and policy director. 'Today's decision reaffirms that all loving, committed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the freedom to marry in every county across the state.'

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