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Proposition 8 gay marriage ban struck down by US court

The ban on same-sex ban in California was ruled unconstitutional by a panel of three judges.

Supporters of gay marriage react outside the court today
Supporters of gay marriage react outside the court today
Image: AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Lea Suzuki

A FEDERAL APPEALS court has today declared California’s controversial ‘Proposition 8′ same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

However, the court agreed to give sponsors of the bitterly contested, voter-approved law time to appeal the ruling before ordering the state to resume allowing gay couples to wed.

The three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the US Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 — a response to an earlier state court decision that legalised gay marriage — was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

“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,” states the opinion written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court’s most liberal judges.

However, the appeals panel took pains to note that its decision applies only to California, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine western states.

Lawyers for the coalition of conservative religious groups that sponsored the measure said they have not decided if they will seek a 9th Circuit rehearing or file an appeal directly to the US Supreme Court.

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“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage — tried in San Francisco — turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favour of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defence Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona.

Supporters of gay marriage praised the ruling as historic.

“The message it sends to young LGBT people, not only here in California but across the country, (is) that you can’t strip away a fundamental right,” said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. He formed the group with director Rob Reiner to wage the court fight against Proposition 8.

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Associated Press

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