November 14, 2008
CA's Complicated Prop 8 Legal Battle
Last weekend gay marriage advocates protested recently passed gay marriage bans in California, Arizona, and Florida. Of the three anti-gay amendments passed November 4 in the three states, California's has the most complicated legal ramifications.
The bans have only intensified nuanced legal battles between religious conservatives and gay rights advocates.
Each state has its own laws to amend its constitution. Some states need a two-thirds majority vote by the state legislatures and a signature from the governor before it can go to a vote by the general public. Other states only require a majority of the popular vote.
California is one such state where policies can be passed by winning a majority of the general public's vote -- effectively making an addition to the constitution as easy as filling in a bubble.
Here's what happened in California.
Last spring, the California Supreme Court ruled a previous state ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. Chief Justice Ronald M. George said in the opinion that:
"any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation will from this point on be constitutionally suspect in California in the same way as laws that discriminate by race or gender, making the state's high court the first in the nation to adopt such a stringent standard."
The only recourse for anti-gay activists was to change the state Constitution. When a majority of state voters decided to impose another ban on gay marriages on Nov. 4, it became the first legal action of its kind to revoke rights already allotted to same sex couples (most states impose same sex marriage bans as preventative measures -- before couples are ever granted the right to marry).
While couples can no longer be "married" under California law, the state's 2007 Domestic Partner Law gives same sex couples the same legal rights and protections as straight couples.
What makes this new amendment so interesting is that it takes away people's rights.
According to ABC news, the day after Election Day
"the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the NCLR filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California, a group that works to secure civil rights for homosexual, bisexual, and transgender Californians, and six same-sex couples who have not yet wed but would like to.
Sunday on the morning political talk shows, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has previously opposed Prop 8,
"said he thought the marriage ban, if challenged in the courts, would again be overturned by the Supreme Court, despite last Tuesday's vote approving the measure.
Stay tuned as the legal fallout unfolds.
Here's what The Daily Show had to say: