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Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Supreme court overturns gay marriage ban

AP News reports that today the California Supreme Court has overturned the gay marriage ban, making Califonia the second state in the US to allow gay and lesbian weddings.

The justices' 4-3 decision states that domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage. Today's ruling by the Republican-dominated court affects more than 100,000 same-sex couples in the state, about a quarter of whom have children, according to U.S. census figures. It came after high courts in New York, Washington and New Jersey refused to extend marriage rights to gay couples. Only Massachusetts' top court has ruled in favor of permitting gays to wed.

Gay rights lawyers won an early victory in the dispute when a San Francisco trial judge decided in 2005 that gays should be permitted to wed. An appeals court later overturned that decision on a 2-1 vote, ruling that only the Legislature or the voters could change California's traditional definition of marriage.

Lawyers in favor of same-sex marriage argued that the law discriminated on the basis of both gender and sexual orientation.

Opponents countered that the ban was gender-neutral, barring both women and men from marrying members of their own sex. They also argued that people could be treated differently because of their sexual orientation if there was a rational basis for it.

In 2000, 61% of California voters approved Proposition 22, which said that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

Since the ballot measure, California has passed one of the strongest domestic partnership laws in the country, giving registered same-sex couples many of the rights of married people, but not all.

Before today's ruling, gay rights lawyers predicted that a victory in the California Supreme Court would help them defeat the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which the lawyers expect to qualify for the November ballot.

The above information is from AP News and LA Times.

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