U.S. News: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Temporarily Overturned in California

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
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Same-Sex Marriage Ban Temporarily Overturned in California

A Major Victory
In November 2008, 52% of California's voters voted to overturn the state's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage, in a ballot measure then known as Proposition 8. The topic of same-sex marriage was once again on the minds of Californians in 2010; Judge Vaughn Walker, a federal District Court judge, struck down the law banning same-sex marriage in August, calling it unconstitutional and discriminatory against gay men and women. This decision was made in response to a federal lawsuit filed by Ted Olson and David Boies, over the constitutional right of gays and lesbians to marry. Litigators Olson and Bois became famously acquainted as the opposing sides in 2000 Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.

Just days after his decision, Judge Vaughn announced that he was lifting the stay on same-sex marriage, but before Californians had the chance to pick out their wedding cakes, a U.S. appeals court ruled that same-sex couples could not marry while the constitutionality of the ban was under review.

Looking for Constitutional Support
In December, a three-person federal appellate panel heard arguments for and against the ban. The proponents of Proposition 8, represented by lead lawyer for the defense, Charles Cooper, argued that the institution of marriage should remain between a man and a woman because the purpose of marriage is to procreate, a state interest. The judges on the panel questioned if this point could be considered an argument against divorce. The defense also reminded the panel that the ban was voted into place by the citizens of California and should be respected as a democratic decision. However, the panel compared the ban to segregation and wondered if segregation could legally be reinstated if voters chose to support it.

The plaintiffs in the case, Olson and Boies, maintained that marriage is a fundamental human right that shouldn't be removed by society.

The appellate court did not reveal when it would make its decision; however, the case is likely to continue its battle in the Supreme Court in 2011.

For more information on same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships: