Prop 8 Overturned!
On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Same sex marriage is now legal in California.
Background on Prop 8:
In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that denying gay and lesbian couples to marry was unconstitutional and same-sex marriage became legal in California. But then voters in November of 2008 passed Proposition 8, which changed the constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
What is Being Decided in Perry v. Schwarzenegger?:
Perry v. Schwarzenegger is a challenge to Prop 8. The trial challenging Prop 8 is taking place in a federal district court in the courtroom of Judge Vaughn Walker. This is a federal suit under the federal constitution. (Not just the state of California.) According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights the court is being asked to decide this question (among others): Is it a denial of equal protection under the law to single out same-sex couples and eliminate their fundamental right to marry after recognizing that same-sex couples are entitled to full equality the state constitution.
What's At Stake?:
The plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger will argue that Prop 8 was driven by bias against gays and lesbians, is not backed by any government interest and is part of a history of discrimination against the gay community. Many people believe that this trial could lay the groundwork for the issue of same-sex marriage to be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Regardless of how the judge rules, the losing party will likely appeal and that will bring the case up for the Supreme Court to review.
The Lawyers in Perry v. Schwarzenegger:
The lawyers in the Prop 8 court case have gotten as much publicity as the issue. Ted Olson and David Boies have teamed up to take on this case. The two lawyers were on opposite sides of Bush v. Gore, the case that decided the 2000 presidential election. Ted Olson is a conservative lawyer who served under Bush and Ronald Reagan and that scared some gay and lesbian activists because they did not know how he would argue the case.
But Olson has made his case as a conservative for same-sex marriage. He says laws banning gay marriage are unconstitutional and make no sense.
The Plaintiffs in the Prop 8 Trial:
The plaintiffs in the California challenge to Prop 8 are two same-sex couples who are not married. Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley have been in a relationship for nine years, and are the parents of four boys. Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo are from and Burbank and have been together eight years.
Youtube Controversy about the Prop 8 Trial:
Perry v. Schwarzenegger was going to be the first federal trial broadcast on Youtube, but the U.S. Supreme Court interceded just before the trail was to begin and halted the plans for the broadcast.
More on the Prop 8 Federal Trial:
One of the interesting things about this case it that it did not originate with a national gay rights organization, but rather with a few activists. In fact, several gay rights organizations were originally opposed to a federal case about gay marriage because they were not sure the time was right to win such a case at the Supreme Court. Those organizations who originally opposed the trial have since offered legal counsel to the plaintiffs' legal team.
The trial is expected to last several weeks, but with appeals, make take years before a final decision is made about gay marriage in California. In the meantime, Prop 8 will stand as law of the land and gay marriage will not be permitted in California.