CA High Court Ruling Creates Mixed System for Same-sex Couples

May 26, 2009 ( - The California Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Proposition 8, the voter-approved law restoring a ban on same-sex marriages, but left intact the more than 18,000 marriages of couples who wed last year when the high court originally approved the unions.

The decision puts California in unusual territory for the time being, establishing a mixed system of marriage across the state for same-sex couples, the San Jose Mercury News pointed out. Under the ruling, Proposition 8 will continue to outlaw same-sex marriage in the future, but those couples who got their marriage licenses before the ballot measure went into effect will have equal rights with heterosexual married couples, the news report said.

Last May, the high court overturned California’s previous ban on gay marriage with a 4-3 decision that a ballot measure and family law statute outlawing same-sex marriage violated the California constitution’s equal protection guarantees for gays and lesbians by depriving them of the equal right to marry (see Golden State Court Allows Gay Marriages ). However, last November, 52% of California voters approved Prop 8 which actually amended the state constitution itself, trumping Supreme Court intervention (see CA Voters Overturn Court Ruling on Same-sex Marriage).

According to the news report, Attorney General Jerry Brown argued that Prop 8 should have been invalidated because it conflicted directly with last year’s state Supreme Court ruling, but supporters of the measure argued that the Supreme Court should not tamper with a voter-approved amendment to the constitution.