The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage to resume in California today.
In its ruling on the state's anti-gay marriage law, the court essentially said that a “private party,” the conservative backers of the law, had no standing to defend what was the people's legislation:
That means the backers' appeal of Proposition 8 was dismissed by the court and sent back to a a now gay friendly California. Read the ruling here.
The decision came just minutes after the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), resulting in a double whammy against those who would deny same-sex couples equal rights.
“Marriage equality will be the law across this land,” said David Boies, an attorney who challenged Proposition 8 before the court.
In August 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Backers of the measure appealed that ruling to a federal appeals court, which upheld Walker's decision in February 2012.
Then the haters took it to the U.S. Supreme Court. And even though it's technically the people of California's law, state Attorney General Kamala Harris decided not to defend it.
In fact, Harris filed a brief arguing for outlawing the proposition.
Even a group of prominent Republicans said marriage should apply to all.
Those who backed Proposition 8, however, argued for it before the high court. The L.A.-based group American Foundation for Equal Rights has spearheaded the legal challenge.
[Added at 8:04 a.m.]: The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) sounded triumphant in a statement this morning, calling the court's move “a historic victory for marriage equality.”
At 5:30 p.m. AFER and other groups will participate in a “community celebration” at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards in West Hollywood.
Of the two couples that challenged Proposition 8, one was from the L.A. area — Paul Katami and partner Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank.
[Added at 8:12 p.m.]: Many opponents of Proposition 8 feel that California voters were hoodwinked by a well-financed campaign for the law spearheaded in large part by the Mormon church.
Voters passed the law banning gay marriage in California in November 2008.
[Added at 8:16 a.m.]: Christopher Street West, producer of L.A. Pride, and L.A. Pride president Rodney Scott, released this statement on the Supreme Court's moves this morning:
Today, the voices of our community and our allies have been heard and Justice has prevailed. We celebrate the fact that marriage in California will soon again be an institution for all loving couples who are looking to join into a committed and loving relationship recognized by the state and protected by the law. This has been a long and emotional fight, one based on basic human rights and one based on love. This is not nor has it ever been about special treatment for the LGBT community but about basic human rights. This is truly a day of celebration and while we should embrace this triumphant win, we celebrate knowing that there are still battles ahead in the fight for true equality.
[Added at 8:20 a.m.]: So what did the court do regarding Proposition 8? Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog explains:
After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.
[Added at 8:25 a.m.]: California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office this morning issued an I-told-ya-so:
In February of this year, Attorney General Harris filed a friend-of-the-court brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the opponents of same-sex marriage did not have the legal standing necessary to challenge marriage equality in the nation's highest court. Today, the Supreme Court agreed …
She's scheduled to address the media regarding Proposition 8 at 10:30 a.m.
[Update at 8:33 a.m.]: NBC News says President Obama phoned the two couples who challenged Proposition 8 to tell them, “We're proud of you.”
[Update at 8:35 a.m.]: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued this statement:
Today, we have taken another momentous step on the path to full equality and dignity for all Californians and all Americans. By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court has affirmed a basic American truth: bigotry and bias have no place in our laws. And with the Court's decision on Proposition 8, California is poised to become the 13th state in America with full marriage equality.
Today, we celebrate a victory for love and fairness, a victory for same-sex couples who only want to follow their hearts and marry the person they love. As we move closer to a more perfect union, we will continue to make our case: if we truly believe in family values, we should value all families.
[Update at 8:56 p.m.]: The ACLU has this reaction and explanation of the Supreme Court move on Proposition 8:
The Court gave us another milestone today — it restored the freedom to marry in California. Dismissing the appeal by the proponents of Proposition 8 (the folks who put it on the ballot) for lack of standing, the Court effectively reinstated the trial court decision from August 2010, which struck Proposition 8 down as violating the U.S. Constitution.