California’s Legal Back-and-Forth
The unique situation in California regarding gay marriage has captured the attention of national and international media. The battle began when a Supreme Court of Californiadecided that, based on the Equal Protection Clause, the state should grant marriage licenses to all citizens. The window of legal gay marriage was between June 16, 2008 and November 5, 2008. Joe Capley-Alfano married his husband, Frank, in this window and said “it means we are included in the American Dream.”
18,000 gay couples were married in California during this same window.
Legal gay marriage was then revoked because of the voter-approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to only allow one woman and one man to enter into marriage. California joined the majority of states in banning same-sex marriage in 2008. Despite this abrupt and major change in marriage laws, marriages entered into before the proposition’s passage “remain legally recognized and retain full state-level marriage rights.”
The struggle continues though, in California. In early February of this year, a three-judge panel (federal appeals court) announced its decision in San Francisco by upholding Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision in 2010, and throwing out the voter-elected Proposition 8. The grounds were that the ban directly violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples in California. More specifically, it was found that it violated “the equal protection rights of two same-sex couples who brought the suit;” this is the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case (now known as Perry v. Brown) that was filed in 2009.
According to the decision “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California.” But, the appeals court did not address whether marriage is considered a fundamental right for both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.
The appeals court also said that gay marriages will not resume in California “until the deadline passes for Proposition 8 sponsors to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.”
Both sides in the case want to take it before the Supreme Court in hopes of finally settling the issue so, unfortunately, it does not look like same-sex couples will be able to marry (again) in California for quite some time.
The Brighter Side
Fortunately, the case of legalizing gay marriage in California is so high profile that its progress will be easy to track or even help out with.
Furthermore, the ever faithful Equality California, an organization present in many states, ”joined with LGBT legal groups to file amicus (or friend-of-the-court) briefs in the case asking Court to strike Prop 8, supporting a motion to allow same-sex couples to marry while the case is on appeal and urging the court to reject a motion by backers of Prop 8 to vacate Judge Walker’s ruling simply because he has been in a relationship with another man for 10 years.”
- Can gay couples get married in California? At the moment, no.
- When could gay couples marry in California? Between June 16th and November 5th of 2008.
- Are the marriages that were conducted between those dates still valid? Yes.