A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday ruled California’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.
In a 2-1 vote, the three judge panel upheld now retired Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker ruling that the voter-approved ballot measure was unconstitutional. The judges dismissed Proposition 8 proponents’ argument that Walker should have recused himself from the case because he was in a long-term relationship with another man, but they affirmed a California Supreme Court’s non-binding ruling that said the defendants have legal standing under state law to challenge the Aug. 2010 decision.
“Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, as the courts have repeatedly throughout our nation’s history, that singling out a class of citizens for discriminatory treatment is unfair, unlawful and violates basic American values,” said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights Board of Directors. “Like many other Americans, our plaintiffs want nothing more than to marry the person they love. Committed, loving couples and their families should not be denied this most fundamental freedom.”
“Today’s decision affirms what we all know to be true – our Constitution protects the basic civil rights of all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Proposition 8 does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage. Instead, it singles out thousands of loving California families for different treatment, simply because they are gay and lesbian couples. We applaud the Ninth Circuit for recognizing that our Constitution cannot tolerate such egregious discrimination.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are among the elected officials who praised the court’s decision.
“Today’s decision is a victory for civil rights and for progress for the LGBT community and for all Californians,” she said.
Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in California until the case, which is widely expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, is officially resolved.