SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday the state cannot bar same-sex marriages, marking a major victory for gay rights advocates that may have national implications.
"Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest," the court said in a majority decision.
"Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional."
Read the rest of the report here.
For the legal eagles who want the full decision here is a link to all 178 pages of it.
For those of us who want an abridged version, here is the gist of things:
In the present case, the question before us is whether the state has a constitutionally compelling interest in reserving the designation of marriage only for opposite-sex couples and excluding same-sex couples from access to that designation, and whether this statutory restriction is necessary to serve a compelling state interest.
"throughout this state’s history the Legislature, of course, has effected numerous fundamental changes in the institution of marriage, dramatically altering its nature from how it existed at common law."
In contrast to the position advanced by the Proposition 22 Legal Defense Fund and the Campaign, the Attorney General and the Governor recognize that the California Constitution does not define or limit the marriage relationship to a union of a man and a woman.
on Page 111 we find some legaleze I have had translated for me:
"By the same token, the circumstance that the limitation of marriage to a union between a man and a woman embodied in section 308.5 was enacted as an initiative measure by a vote of the electorate similarly neither exempts the statutory provision from constitutional scrutiny nor justifies a more deferential standard of review. Although California decisions consistently and vigorously have safeguarded the right of voters to exercise the authority afforded by the initiative process (see, e.g., Associated Home Builders, etc., Inc. v. City of Livermore (1976) 18 Cal.3d 582, 591), our past cases at the same time uniformly establish that initiative measures adopted by the electorate are subject to the same constitutional limitations that apply to statutes adopted by the Legislature, and our courts have not hesitated to invalidate measures enacted through the initiative process when they run afoul of constitutional guarantees provided by either the federal or California Constitution."
"It is my belief that the statement holds that a constitutional amendment motivated by voter referendum has the same constitutionally mandated burden of judicial review and due process as any there legistlature motivated statute."
~Raymond A. Grinnell IV
In a nutshell this means were this petition to change the constitution to be approved by voters it will bring the process back to the same judicial body that just said they approved marriage equality. This of course will send the opponents of equality to find relief from the federal government, setting the stage for a federal court fight where the Supreme Court will have to rule for all states at once. This is something they are desperately hoping to avoid.
"Instead of presuming the validity of the statutes defining marriage and establishing domestic partnership, in effect the majority presumes them to be constitutionally invalid by characterizing domestic partnership as a 'mark of second-class citizenship.'" - California Supreme Court
"An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely. " - CNN
(Both above quoted from queertoday.com)
Opponents of marriage equality in Califonia are pressing on with their petition to put discrimination in their constitution, but the their supreme court, legislators, and governator against them someone needs to call in the fat lady.
Thank you California, and welcome to the land of the free!
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