Calif. gay marriage ban is ruled unconstitutional
SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court Tuesday declared California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional but 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 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 – a response to an earlier state court decision that legalized gay marriage – was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
However, the appeals panel took pains to note its decision applies only to California, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine western states. California is the only one of those states where the ability for gays to marry was granted then rescinded, the court noted in its narrowly crafted opinion.
The ruling will not take effect until the deadline passes for Proposition 8’s backers to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit. Lawyers for the coalition of conservative religious groups that sponsored the measure said they have not decided whether they will seek a 9th Circuit rehearing or file an appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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