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State Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8

Decision does allow existing gay marriages to stand

Posted: May 26, 2009 9:32 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Demonstrators hold a mock California state flag as a group protest the California Supreme Court's upholding of Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriages, in a march and rally from the UCLA campus to the West Los Angeles Federal Building Tuesday.

 
The California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed.

Proposition 8, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, passed during the November election and effectively banned gay marriage. The controversial proposition overturned a June 2008 decision by the California Supreme Court that allowed gay marriage and overruled Proposition 22, which passed in 2000 and was California's first gay-marriage ban.

Tuesday's decision came as no surprise to Carole Lutness, chairwoman of the 38th Democratic Central Committee.

"They (the California Supreme Court judges) are known conservatives, so this decision is not a surprise," she said. The decision is a disappointment to Lutness, who added that marriage is a civil right that should be extended to all people.

For those on the other side of the Proposition 8 debate, the announcement affirmed that the will of California voters is the most important factor in the law.

"I'm delighted that the court has decided to uphold the will of the people," said Bob Haueter, deputy chief of staff for Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita).

McKeon was an active supporter for Proposition 8.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich also commented on today's court decision.

"The California Supreme Court accurately interpreted the law - rather than legislating from the bench. This action reaffirms the will of the people as expressed in the 2000 and 2008 statewide elections," Antonovich said in a statement.

Lutness, meanwhile, argues that marriage is a civil right to which everyone is entitled.

"What's good for one class of people has to be good for all classes of people," she said.

Haueter said Tuesday's decision is validation for those who believe in traditional marriage. "This reaffirms the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said.

A.J. Hurley, 24, of Newhall, is a devout Christian whose brother is gay. He said his support of Proposition 8 isn't about being anti-gay, but instead is about being a proponent of traditional marriage.

"The history of marriage between a man and a woman is thousands of years old. Gay marriage was looked at as the same as incest and marriage with animals," he said. Hurley fears that accepting gay marriage will lead to moral decay.

"If this change in morality continues, then 100 years from now we might allow a father and a daughter to marry or allow bestiality," he said.

Lindsey Johnson, 18, of Canyon Country wasn't surprised at today's decision, just disappointed. "I was saddened that people were so closed-minded and opposed something that's a basic human right," she said.

Johnson said using the defense of traditional marriage to oppose same sex marriage has no merit.

"Traditional marriages are a threat to themselves," she said. "Straight marriages don't have that high of a success rate."

The recent decision on Proposition 8 doesn't take away the right to for gay couples to enter civil unions, Lutness said.

As the debate over gay marriage continues, one issue swirling since the November Proposition 8 vote was solved by the California Supreme Court. Tuesday's decision does not void the marriages of couples who exchanged nuptials in 2008.

For Lutness, allowing those who are already married to stay married provides some relief.

"I have a lot of gay friends who are married and I didn't look forward to going to their dissolution parties," she said.

Haueter declined to comment on the California Supreme Court decision on allowing same-sex couples who are married to stay married because he had not seen a transcript of the court's decision.

"That's only fair," Johnson said about the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold the existing same-sex marriages. "(The Court) can't just take back those marriages."

Lutness said the gay-marriage debate doesn't end with Tuesday's decision. She expects that a gay-marriage ballot initiative will go before the California voters by 2010 or 2012, she said.

"Lawyers arguing against Proposition 8 will read this court decision and try to draft a proposition that holds up to any court challenge," she said. "This issue is not over."

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