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A Blog by Gary Wright II

Appeals court hearing on California Prop 8 marriage case

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Today, a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals heard arguments regarded the California Proposition 8 case against gay marriages. A previous federal judge ruled that the amendment to the California State Constitution defining marriage as between a man and woman violated the 14th amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees due process and equal protection.

For a detailed background on this case, please read these four previous blog entries:
August 4th, 2010
August 18th, 2010
September 22nd, 2010
October 18th, 2010

The first hour of proceedings questioned the legal standing of those making the appeal. There had been a previous US Supreme Court ruling that found only injured parties have a right to appeal, and the supporters of the CA Prop 8 amendment are not personally affected by the ruling.

The final hour of the hearing was regarding the Constitutional issues of the case. The primary justification for defending the amendment is that the state has an interest in procreation. By that same argument, it could be said that any marriage that doesn't result it children is not a valid marriage and that unmarried couples who have children should be forced to marry. When they presented that argument in court today, Judge Stephen Reinhardt said, "That sounds like a good argument for prohibiting divorce [courtroom laughs], but how does it relate to having two males or two females marry each other and raise children as they can in California?"

The lower court ruling by District Judge Walker found, "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples."

When considering equal rights and civil unions in today's hearing, Judge N. Randy Smith said, "If in fact the homosexual couples have all of the rights that the heterosexual couples have - we are left with a word: marriage. What is the rational basis for that?"

Currently, same-sex marriages are legal in Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.

A ruling from the panel is expected soon. It will be appealed in the full 9th Circuit court, and then likely appealed to US Supreme Court.

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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