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May 26th, 2009
01:56 PM ET

California high court upholds same-sex marriage ban

People rally in front of the California Supreme Court Building after arguments were heard for and against Proposition 8 March 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California.
People rally in front of the California Supreme Court Building after arguments were heard for and against Proposition 8 March 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California.

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) - The California Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a ban on same-sex marriages that state voters passed in November, but it allowed about 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before the ban to remain valid.

The 6-1 ruling was met with chants of "shame on you" from a crowd of about 1,000 people who gathered outside the court building in San Francisco.

"It's nice that my marriage is still intact, but that's not the point," said Kathleen White, who married her partner in 2008.

Opponents of the ban argued that the controversial Proposition 8, which state voters passed 52 percent to 48 percent in November, improperly altered the California Constitution to restrict a fundamental right guaranteed in the state's charter.

But the court - which had allowed same-sex marriages in a 2008 decision - found the measure was narrow enough to pass legal muster.

Attorneys for the opponents also said the proposition, which removed the "marriage" label from same-sex unions, effectively deprived same-sex couples of a fundamental right guaranteed them under the equal-protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.

The passage of Proposition 8 made California one of several states to ban same-sex marriage in the November 4 elections. But unlike others, California had been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples since the state Supreme Court ruled in May 2008 that the unions were legal.

Four states - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Iowa - allow same-sex marriages. A Vermont law making such marriages legal will take effect in September.

On May 6, same-sex marriage became legal in Maine as Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill less than an hour after the state Legislature approved it.

In April, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it is illegal to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them the right to marry. The first gay marriages in the state took place April 27.

The District of Columbia voted May 5 to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, though it does not itself give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In April, New York Gov. David Paterson introduced legislation to make same-sex marriage legal in his state.

New Hampshire's move to legalize same-sex marriage hit a road bump Wednesday after that state's House of Representatives did not agree to legislation changes made by the governor.

Both the House and Senate already had approved allowing gay couples to marry. But Gov. John Lynch, a three-term Democrat, said he would sign a same-sex marriage bill only if it provides "the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions."

The House on Wednesday fell two votes short of approving Lynch's language. The chamber then voted to send the legislation to a committee to be considered further.

Filed under: Gay Rights
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Maria

    Tell me what's next. If the Christian defintion is the only one that matters then why donj't you try to ban Non Christian marriages. Sorry the Constitution protects our rights even from the Majority. Just as it did with interracial marriages, ending slavery, integration and women's right to vote. The rights of the Majority end where the rights of the Minority begin. All citizen are entitled to equal rights in this country by the constituion and they are not up for vote. In fact our Founding fathers were against that. I laugh at these people who decry "activist judges" when it was the same people decring activist judges during women's suffrage, ening slaver and interracial marriages. It's true waht they say history really does repeat itself. I praise the activist juges of that era as well as the ones here. I praise them for recognizeing that minorites have equal rights under the constitution and that the majorty can not take their rights away. We have seen societes where the minorites rights are voted away, Muslim theocracies, Nazi Germany, Darfur etc. As I have said the rights of the majority ends where the minorites begin. Honestly te Chrsitian Socialist squeeking about "majority rights" is no different then when racists do the same. Just check the blog Majority Rights to see what I am talking about

    June 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  2. Maria

    "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion... " This is from the treaty of tripoli. I guess what Gail means by traditional marriage is keeping the blacks in chains and women in the kitchen. Also I know by sanctity of life Gail you must mean the Pro Life nonsense. Well tell that to your God who aborted David and Bathsheeba's child or the multiple times in the Bibles where your Biblical heroes killed every including pregnant women and young boys but took young virgin women and their slaves. Or the time where Elisha had two young boys making fun of him and he had bears come to maul them, or the babies killed in Egypt when your God killed sent an angel to kill all of those babies who did not have lambs blood on their doors. Your God is many things but he is not Pro Life. In fact Jews to this day think that life begins at birth. Which is wrong as life begins late in the womb but it certainly dosen't begin at the moment of conception. Then again i'm sure you rationalize these baby killing by since they were pagan babies it was OK. All hail Jesus God of Abortion!

    June 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  3. Maria

    And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
    Sorry our Chritianity was the last the on the mind of the Fathers when they found this country.

    June 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Maria

    Ok this is BS. First of all this country was not founded on any god. Quite the opposite really as the Founding Fathers were Desists and many (including Thomas Jefferson) were vehemently Anti Christian. First of all this country was not founded upon such stupid things as marriage or "sanctity of life" by the Chrsitian standard. It was fouded for absolute freedom and rights for all people. That man should live by his own reason and mind not faith. Our rights come from our own mind and man's logic. Not Christianity or any other Bronze Age religion. Sorry but your god's defintion of marriage matters as much as Buddha's, Athena's or Amaterasu's asin not at all. Also I love how people speak of "traditional" marriage. They don't realize marriages evolving status in this country alone. Originally marriage was between one white man and one white woman. Slaves had not right to marriage more the live stock did. Then it was two people of the same race. Then it was two people of any race. The bible itself says that we are descended from two people and are the resls of generations of incest. Also polygamy was rapant in the bible such as Solomon. Moses even married his own cousin. Also gay marriage has been in every society before the book religions. Check the gay marriages of the Celts, the Hijras in India, the Native American Two Spirited marriages, and the Gatekeeper marriages from Africa. Also sorry your God does not belong in this country. You have just as much proof of his existence and prdominace as the Hindus have for Shiva. this country is made for people of all faiths. This is not medieval Europe your religion has no say in this country and the founding fathers would kick all of your asses for tryiong to insert it. Also all of the major progresses in this nation came againts the majorty will such as abbolition, intgration, inter racial marriages and women's right to vote. If the majority was the one to decide then none of the groups would have their rights. The fact is they were given their rights because their own rights matters more then majority opinion. Thomas Jefferson himself said that the majority should NEVER vote on the rights of the minority. The rights of the majority end when it come to the right of the minority. People have and deserve rights regardless of majority opinion or outdated religions. Honestly your opinions are no different then previous bigots who were hell bent on keeping other groups down and their religious interpretations backed them up too.

    June 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  5. Toto

    The strongest point in the American system is its passion for democratic freedom... If 52% of Californians believe that same sex marriage is out, then its courts did the right thing to uphold the opinion of the majority. Personally though I would tend to be sympathetic with america's gay community and their struggle for right to marry, I still am convinced that the courts had no legal choice but to uphold the result of the referendum last November.

    May 29, 2009 at 1:53 am |
  6. Bernice

    Jana, sorry to see that the average American people could not be as perfect as you! Note the sarcasm? That is the real issue. Your comment was just plain rude! Gail had an opinion. No point in your rather rude comments Ms. Perfect! Opps! I did not include a comma in my last sentence! Too bad! Because, I seem to agree with Gail here! GOD IS EVERYWHERE! GOD BELONGS EVERYWHERE and will be here LONG after we are all gone! We all have our rights to beliefs, so no need in nastiness. A mistake is a human trait and even those with the finest educations make them sweetheart! (with the exception of you. You are much too perfect!) lol

    May 28, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  7. Jana

    The fact that the majority of the posts below me do not know how to spell or use proper English punctuation and grammar tells me a lot about the validity of their opinions.

    Gail – the word is "Sanctity" not "santity". Please receive an education before posting an opinion.

    Your God does not belong in legislature. So get over it.

    May 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  8. Manuel Felipe Munera

    Good morning; I think public religion in the US. is using the wrong word to define what same sex couples want.
    Marriage is a word that has a christian heritage and its being used assuming that the Church should or must be the only overseer of any coupleling.
    What is wanted is a legal secular {non-religious} CIVIL UNION not a marriage.
    M.F. Munera.

    May 27, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  9. Gail

    I definitely concur with Purple Spider and earnestly pray that the Replubicans and those who truly call themselves Christians (followers of Christ) would have the boldness to speak up for the godly principles that this country was founded on (including but not limited to traditional marriage and santity of life); but to also do it in a manner of love and compassion.

    May 27, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  10. Bob

    It's about the only thing the Republicans have right.

    May 27, 2009 at 6:29 am |
  11. Purple Spider

    Good for the California Courts! Californians voted unanimously to "shut down" same sex marriage. Therefore it is only proper, that this vote be respected and the voice of Californians be heard!
    Gays are entitled to rights just like others who are not gay; however, this attacking others for their opinions on how marriage should be, and dragging this whole ordeal through the court system needs to conclude!

    May 27, 2009 at 12:22 am |