Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

California Court to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

California Court to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Article excerpt

The California Supreme Court on Tuesday will issue its highly anticipated ruling on Proposition 8, the statewide ballot initiative that bans same-sex marriages. The decision comes as more states consider the issue, giving it a significance beyond California. Legislatures or courts in five other states - most recently in Iowa and Maine - have legalized same-sex marriage. New Hampshire and New York are weighing similar laws. The California court will determine if Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of voters last year, is an illegal revision of the state constitution. In addition, the justices are likely to determine the validity of some 18,000 same- sex marriages performed before last November's poll. The decision is expected to be posted on the court's website at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. Gay marriage was legalized in California last year when the state's Supreme Court ruled, in a 4-to-3 decision, that a state law limiting marriage to a man and woman violated constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. While the ruling led to a wave of same-sex marriages in the state, it also gave rise to the $83 million campaign to amend the constitution that resulted in Prop. 8. Though the state's justices ruled in favor of gay marriage last year, they may be reluctant to overrule a popular vote, says Jenny Pizer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a leading gay-rights advocacy organization and part of the suit challenging Prop. 8. The court has rejected various attempts to undo statewide propositions, such as reinstating the death penalty. Moreover, the legal argument being employed by gay and civil rights groups has only twice succeeded in overturning voter initiatives. These groups maintain that Prop. 8 goes too far in altering the constitution. Prop. 8 "was created to make an exception" to the equal protection clause of the state constitution, "and that is a protection that can't be changed by using the initiative power," argues Ms. Pizer of Lambda Legal. Such an alteration requires a two-thirds majority from state lawmakers, she says. California Attorney General Jerry Brown opposed the proposition, saying it violates "inalienable or natural rights. …

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