California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

The California Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday that upholds Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to wed.

The court also ruled that marriages that did occur are still legal. An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples tied the knot.

"The 7 million Californians who worked hard to protect marriage as the union of husband and wife are breathing easier today," Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement.

"Applying well-established legal principles pertinent to the question whether a constitutional provision should be interpreted to apply prospectively or retroactively, we conclude that the new section cannot properly be interpreted to apply retroactively," according to the ruling. "Accordingly, the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Proposition 8 remain valid and must continue to be recognized in this state."

"While I believe that one day either the people or courts will recognize gay marriage, as governor of California I will uphold the decision of the California Supreme Court," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement. "Regarding the 18,000 marriages that took place prior to Proposition 8's passage, the court made the right decision in keeping them intact. I also want to encourage all those responding to today's court decision to do so peacefully and lawfully."

Rallies were planned across the state in response to the court's ruling -- regardless of the decision.

In Los Angeles, the Latino Equality Alliance planned a rally at the Los Angeles County Marriage License Office at 4716 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. A rally and march are scheduled for Tuesday evening in West Hollywood, which also filed court papers opposing Proposition 8. The rally will begin at the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards at 7 p.m., followed by a march to Hollywood and back.

The state's highest court heard oral arguments in March from attorneys supporting the measure and from those representing plaintiffs who claim the measure is unconstitutional.

Voters approved Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution, in November. The ban sparked outrage from gay rights advocates and prompted mass protests across the state.

In the days after the passage of Proposition 8, three lawsuits were filed directly with the state Supreme Court challenging the validity of the measure.

A host of organizations filed petitions with the court in support of the challenges. The city and county of Los Angeles both joined a lawsuit filed by the city and county of San Francisco challenging the measure.

Eight years ago, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.

Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has also petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. Brown noted that in the ruling overturning Proposition 22, the California Supreme Court found that the constitution guarantees that the right to marry cannot be denied to same-sex couples.

In their court papers, proponents of the measure attacked the view of opponents that Proposition 8 represents a radical change of the constitution that should have been required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

The court determined that the proposition legally adjusted the state's constitution.

"Having been approved by a majority of the voters at the Nov. 4, 2008, election, the initiative measure lawfully amends the California Constitution to include the new provision ...," according to the court's decision.

"In a sense, petitioners' and the Attorney General's complain is that it is just too easy to amend the California Constitution through the initiative process," the justices concluded. "But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it. If the process for amending the constitution is to be restricted -- perhaps in the manner it was explicitly limited in an earlier version of our state constitution ... or as limited in the present-day constitutions of some of our sister states ... this is an effort that the people themselves may undertake through the process of amending their constitution in order to impose further limitations upon their own power of initiative."

Two plaintiffs in one of the same-sex marriage cases reviewed by the state Supreme Court criticized the ruling. Robin Tyler said she is pleased Diane Olson is still her wife but upset about the decision.

Tyler spoke at a news conference in Los Angeles after Tuesday's ruling that she was "as upset as if our marriage had been taken away."

The couple wed last year in a Jewish ceremony outside the Beverly Hills courthouse. Tyler said she plans to become a "love warrior" and work as an organizer to put the measure back on the ballot in 2010.

And now for everyone's official statements:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

"I know today's decision is a tremendous disappointment for many people. But I also know that the opinions of Californians are changing on this issue, and I believe that equal marriage rights will one day be the law in this state. This is already the case in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. So, I believe this issue will come before the voters again, and I am very hopeful that the result will be different next time."
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles:

"Today is a setback for equality in California, but it will not be the end of the story. When marriage equality legislation was first introduced in the Legislature it couldn't get out of committee. Since then we've passed marriage equality bills twice and more than 60 legislators signed the amicus brief last November trying to overturn the inequities in Proposition 8. The people of California and the tide of history are clearly moving toward equality. While everyone who believes in equal treatment under the law is disappointed by the court's decision today, we should all take pride in the fact that truth and time are on our side. My colleagues in the Assembly will continue to work to promote equality for all Californians in any way that we can."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:

"We're going into every neighborhood, every city. We're going into every institution to have this conversation about the right of my first cousin John to have a family. The right of men and women who only want one thing -- the right to love, the right to a family -- something so basic to all of us."  
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi:

"Today we lost an important battle, but on this disappointing day, it's worth remembering that the final outcome of this struggle has already been determined. Time is on our side, and Californians will one day soon repeal Proposition 8. Patti and I have been married for 43 years, and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the LGBT community and their allies as they work to convince the electorate that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve access to marriage and equality. While we will always face roadblocks, our society journeys down a path of increased equality under the law."
Gloria Allred, attorney for plaintiffs Diane Olson, Robin Tyler, Cathy Refaely and Cheri Schroeder:

"In the same way that marriage is for better or for worse, some decisions of our Supreme Court are better, but this one is for the worse. We are disheartened, dismayed and shocked that the California Supreme Court validated the constitutionality of Prop 8, permitting a majority of the electorate to deprive and deny what our same Supreme Court just 12 months ago determined was a fundamental constitutional right to marry for all otherwise eligible adults in California regardless of sexual orientation."
Andrew Pugno, attorney for

"This is the culmination of years of hard work to preserve marriage in California. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers worked diligently to uphold the institution of marriage. Twice, voters have decided the marriage in California should be only between a man and a woman. We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the right of voters to define marriage in the California Constitution. The voters have decided this issue and their views should be respected."
Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center:

"Today, our Supreme Court sent a mixed and troubling message. While upholding the legal marriages of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California, the ruling establishes that all Californians are not entitled to equal protection of the law. This is a sad day for our state and a setback for the cause of freedom and fairness. But it's also important to keep this in perspective. Every noble struggle known to man or woman has been filled with losses -- temporary defeats that people had to endure and overcome. We must pick ourselves up and move forward, knowing that justice ultimately will prevail and the right to marry will one day be ours forever."

Chaz Lowe, co-founder of the Yes! on Equality coalition:

"The Yes! on Equality coalition is dismayed by today's Supreme Court ruling, but we remain optimistic that all Californians will soon enjoy equal marriage rights. The tide on marriage equality is turning nationally, and Yes! on Equality is eager to lead the fight for equality in California in 2010. Yes! on Equality is currently in the process of gathering signatures to qualify the California Marriage Equality Act, an amendment to repeal the state's unjust marriage provisions, for the 2010 ballot. Despite the outcome of Proposition 8, Paige Cabral, co-founder of Yes! On Equality, is optimistic that Californians will vote in favor of marriage equality once the issue of same sex marriage is stripped of the misinformation that was spread by the Yes on Prop 8 campaign."
Rabbi Denise L. Eger of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood:

"Civil rights should be determined by law not religious doctrine. When courts allow the government to affirm one religious view over another, all religious beliefs are in jeopardy. We respect the beliefs of those people whose faith teaches marriage is between a man and a woman, and we respect their rights to practice those beliefs within their religious institutions. However, our faith teaches marriage is open to gay and lesbian couples. Where is the respect for our beliefs, and if our faith can be trampled by the government, whose beliefs can be trampled next?"

Steve Poizner, state insurance commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate:

"The California Supreme Court took the appropriate action today in upholding the will of the people by affirming Proposition 8. The people of California have spoken. They voted decisively that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. That is also my personal view."

Meg Whitman, Republican gubernatorial candidate:

"I believe the California State Supreme Court made the right decision. Last November, the people of California passed Proposition 8, and today the court upheld their decision. This simple yet powerful fact is the foundation of our democracy. Regardless of one's position on the measure, this ruling gives people confidence that their vote matters and can make a difference."

John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party:

"Today's decision, while heartbreaking, doesn't end the historic struggle for marriage equality. It renews our dedication to making sure all California families can again enjoy the dignity, commitment and responsibility of marriage. I commend the California Supreme Court for validating the rights of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who married last year before Proposition 8 passed. These couples and their children will continue to enjoy the full security and legal protection of marriage."

Anti-Defamation League statement:

"We are disappointed by the court's determination that the passage of Proposition 8 represents an amendment rather than a revision to the California Constitution. The court's ruling sets a dangerous precedent. As we argued in our amicus brief, `If the fundamental rights of gays and lesbians can be stripped away by a mere 52 percent majority, then future amendments will enable Californians to strip away fundamental rights from other disfavored groups."'

Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign:

"These are fundamental constitutional rights that cannot be abolished by a ballot initiative. While we were hoping the court would rule in favor of equality, we have been building the infrastructure to win marriage equality rights at the ballot box. Our members are ready to do the hard work needed to win."

Copyright Archive Sources
Contact Us