November 18, 2011

California gay marriage verdict

The California Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the backers of Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage in that state do have the standing to sue in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a District Court judge's ruling that the proposition violated the US constitution. Hence their appeal can go forward. If the court had ruled the other way, the District Court opinion would have gone forward and gays would have been able to marry.

I think the verdict is the correct one. Usually, it is the state government that pursues any appeals to court decisions that overturn laws but in this case the governor and attorney general of California had both declined to appeal the District Court ruling. I am uncomfortable with the idea that government officials should be given the power to prevent a full legal hearing of an issue. The backers of a proposition should have the right to pursue the legal process to its end.

Although this is a setback for gay rights, a more important principle is at stake and that is that government officials should not be given the power to determine who gets their day in court.

I think this setback for gay rights is temporary. The march for equal rights is unstoppable and that day will come soon, both in the courts and in public opinion.


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As usual you shed a reasoned light on the subject. But the governor and attorney general aren't just government officials, they are the elected representatives of the people of the state. Does that not make a difference?


Posted by cynner on November 18, 2011 06:14 PM


It makes a difference but not enough. I think that the governor and attorney general have the right to not appeal if they think that it is a waste of time but I think that in that case, the people who went to all the trouble of passing the referendum should have the right to carry the case forward. Otherwise the verdict of a single District Court judge in one jurisdiction can determine the outcome that affects the entire state.

Posted by Mano on November 18, 2011 10:45 PM