Federal Appeals Court Won't Touch California Gay Marriage Ruling

Because a majority of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' 26 judges declined to revisit a three-member panel's ruling striking down Prop 8, the court will not reconsider the decision to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban.

Proponents of Prop 8 earlier indicated they would appeal next to the U.S. Supreme Court if the 9th Circuit decision did not go their way.

The gay marriage foes had petitioned the full 9th Circuit in February, after the three-justice panel essentially struck down Prop 8, which California voters approved in November 2008. Two gay couples sued to prevent the implementation of Prop 8 in May 2009, arguing the law violated their civil rights.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker, who was based in San Francisco before retiring, sided with the couples, leading to the appeal by Prop 8 backers and the appellate panel's ruling.

California's becomes one of several same-sex marriage cases headed for the Supremes.

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Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Walker wrote his opinion knowing where this was headed; he quoted Justice Kennedy so many times it's apparent he was playing toward the swing vote on SCOTUS.

Incidentally, if SCOTUS rules to overturn Proposition 8 as the decision was written, it will not legalize gay marriage in most states; only those states where gay marriage was once legal and then made illegal again. Maine would be an interesting case, because gay marriage was legalized and then put on hold pending referendum before any marriages were contracted.

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