The Ninth Circuit Court ruled today that, similar to a 2010 ruling by a lower court, Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban, is unconstitutional. The panel of judges sided with Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision pretty much saying the same thing, that same-sex marriage ban is wildly inappropriate. The voter-approved initiative, backed heavily by out-of-state funding, defined marriage in California as the union of a man and a woman.
One salient bit from the decision, penned by 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt:
"All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of 'marriage,' which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationships. Proposition 8 serves 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 Constitution does not allow for "laws of this sort." Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 633 (1996).
Does this mean you and your same-sex partner can get married today? No. Two things could happen: The Prop. 8 sect will reappeal with the Ninth Circuit, bringing in additional judges to rehear the entire case again. If that doesn't go their way, they would then submit the case to be heard by The U.S. Supreme Court.
Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, issued the following statement in response to the ruling:
“Today’s powerful court ruling striking down the infamous Prop 8 affirms basic American values and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one while making it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. The Ninth Circuit rightly held that a state simply may not take a group of people and shove them outside the law, least of all when it comes to something as important as the commitment and security of marriage. We salute the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought this challenge to Prop 8.
“This monumental appellate decision restores California to the growing list of states and countries that have ended exclusion from marriage, and will further accelerate the surging nationwide majority for marriage. As this and other important challenges to marriage discrimination move through the courts around the country, Freedom to Marry calls on all Americans to join us in ensuring that together we make as strong a case in the court of public opinion as our legal advocates are making in the courts of law. By growing the majority for marriage, winning more states, and tackling federal discrimination - Freedom to Marry’s ‘Roadmap to Victory’ - we maximize our chances of winning when one case or another finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”
SFist will continue to update throughout the day with more Prop. 8 coverage and reaction.