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Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Overturns California Ban on Gay Marriage

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a controversial decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which modified the California Constitution to eliminate the previously guaranteed right of same-sex couples to marry in the state. Proposition 8 was voted into law on November 4, 2008, and amended Article I of California's Constitution to include Section 7.5, reading: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

In a 2-1 vote, the Court held that the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, by using Proposition 8 to target the rights of a minority group without a legitimate reason for doing so. Writing for the majority, Judge Stephen Reinhard opined, "Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

Reinhardt explicitly stated, however, that this decision only applied to California, and not to other states. Reinhardt explained that, because same-sex couples originally had the right to marry for five months in California before it was taken away, Proposition 8 amounted to a violation of equal protection by targeting only a minority group and not the California population as a whole. Because most other states have never allowed same-sex couples to marry, the argument would be inapplicable to them.

It is anticipated that proponents of Proposition 8 will appeal the panel's decision, requesting either that the issue be heard by all 11 members of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or taking the appeal straight to the United States Supreme Court.

If you have questions regarding the Ohio's laws on same-sex marriage or Ohio's other laws, contact the attorneys at DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder today.

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