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Same-Sex Marriage in California: SCOTUS Review of Prop 8

Posted By Sally Vazquez Castellanos || 19-Mar-2013

U.S. Supreme Court Reviews Same-Sex Marriage in California

Question: Does Prop 8 Deny Gay And Lesbian Americans Equal Rights?

DSCN0079This is a big week at the U.S. Supreme Court for same-sex marriage. At issue, whether enforcement of California’s Proposition 8 denies gay and lesbians fundamental liberty interests and equal protection under the law that is guaranteed to all Americans under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution? This is an issue many within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in California and around the nation have been following closely.

Tomorrow the high court is set to hear argument on California’s Proposition 8 (“Prop 8"), a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. In November 2008, California voters passed Prop 8 in statewide elections. As many of you may recall, Prop 8 added a new provision to our California Constitution, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, providing that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” (See Cal. Cost., Art. I, Section 7.5.)

Historically, Prop 8 was advanced in response to a California Supreme Court ruling (in re-marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384 (Cal. 2008), 43 Cal. 4 th 757 (2008)), which held that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. California voters passed Prop 8 by a vote of 52.3 % to 47.7%. Prop 8 shadows an earlier initiative in California, Proposition 22, which was also passed by voters in California back in 2000 (codified at Cal. Fam. Code Section 308.5), and provided that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Although the case of Lockyer v. City & County of San Francisco, 95 P. 3d 459 (Cal. 2004), had held that Family Code section 300 and 308.5 prohibited public officials in the San Francisco from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the California Supreme Court had not decided on whether those provisions were constitutional. Then, on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court held that California Family Code sections 300 and 308.5 were unconstitutional (See In re Marriage Cases.) Shortly thereafter, Proposition 8 made it to the ballot in California and many argue that the intent of this measure to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California is discriminatory and denies Gay and Lesbian Americans equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Also before the high court this week, the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which is United States federal law defining marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear argument concerning DOMA on Wednesday.

The Court will hear arguments concerning California’s Proposition 8 on Tuesday, March 26, and with argument concerning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act to follow on Wednesday, March 27. If you would like to learn more about the history of these cases, an excellent resource can be found online at the website of the Supreme Court of the United States. You can also check their website at the end of the day on Tuesday for a released audio recording of the Proposition 8 argument on March 26th.

Do you need help with a domestic partnership or dissolution of a domestic partnership in Los Angeles? Call to speak to a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney today at (323) 655-2105.

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