California Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage
Posted on May 17, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
The California Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage Thursday, paving the way for California to become the second state where gay and lesbian residents can marry.
The court in a 4-3 ruling issued the long-awaited decision on its Web site, saying that domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice Ron George, invalidated state laws requiring marriage to be between a man and a woman.
The cases were brought by the city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples, Equality California and another gay rights group in March 2004 after the court halted San Francisco’s monthlong same-sex wedding march that took place at Mayor Gavin Newsom’s direction.
Gay-rights organizations like Equality California called it a historical decision by the court.
The court ruled the state’s one man-one woman marriage laws violate the civil rights of same-sex couples.
With Thursday’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, California would become the second state after Massachusetts where gays and lesbians can legally wed.
The court’s seven justices had appeared closely divided on the issue during three-hour oral arguments on March 4.
Same-sex marriage supporters had argued that a right to same-sex marriage is provided by the state constitutional guarantees of equal protection, privacy and a fundamental right to marry.
State attorneys defending California laws had claimed that opposite-sex marriage was deeply rooted in tradition and the state’s domestic partnership system provided nearly equal rights — an argument a majority of the court rejected.
Meanwhile, a voter initiative that would make opposite-sex marriage part of the California Constitution, rather than a law, may be on the statewide ballot in November.
A constitutional amendment measure providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California has been submitted, but is in the process of having signatures verified, according to the office of Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.)
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