Gay Marriage: Why Prop. 8 Appeal Is Not Going to Supreme Court ... Yet

Article excerpt

The coalition of groups that backs Prop. 8, California's ban on gay marriage, has asked all the judges of the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case decided by a three-judge panel on Feb. 7. An appeal to the US Supreme Court could still follow.

Supporters of a ban on same-sex marriage in California on Tuesday asked the full federal court of appeals court in San Francisco to reconsider a ruling by a divided three-judge panel that struck down the controversial law.

Lawyers for Protect Marriage, a coalition of groups supporting the Proposition 8 ballot initiative, filed a 52-page petition asking the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the panel's ruling.

"The panel majority's decision conflicts with decisions of the United States Supreme Court and this Court, and consideration by the [full appeals] court is therefore necessary to secure and maintain uniformity of the court's decisions," wrote lead counsel Charles Cooper.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled 2 to 1 on Feb. 7 that the ballot initiative and related state constitutional amendment violated the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry.

The appeals court had been asked to rule on whether same-sex couples enjoy a right under the US Constitution to marry on equal terms as heterosexual couples.

The panel declined to address that issue and instead invalidated the measure under a different line of analysis, relying on a Supreme Court decision that prohibited states from singling out homosexual citizens for disfavored and unequal treatment. …