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May 15th, 2008
03:23 PM ET

California justices reject same-sex marriage ban

You can read the entire California Supreme Court ruling here
You can read the entire California Supreme Court ruling here

Augie Martin
CNN Supervising Producer

The ruling by the California Supreme Court this morning was one of the most hotly anticipated rulings in recent memory. This ruling essentially brought to a close the debate over the legality of same-sex marriages in California. The battle all began in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom surprised everyone by issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in 2004. In the see-saw legal battles that followed, the issue seemed to polarize many, and it seemed no one was void of a view on the matter.

The crux of the issue is whether or not the State of California has the authority to legalize same sex marriage. The ruling today, following oral arguments in March 2008 in front of what is generally considered a conservative Supreme Court of California, was at first not quite as straight forward as the issue itself. The ruling began by stating essentially that the same-sex marriages conducted by the City and County of San Francisco were unlawful, but then went on to overturn the ban on same sex marriage in California. Essentially, past same-sex marriages we’re deemed unlawful, but could proceed going forward.

It would probably be fair to say that this ruling was met with a mild degree of surprise, if only because previous rulings seem to have generally gone against permitting same sex marriages in California.

With the legality question now settled, and opportunities to appeal exhausted, a few thoughts come to mind going forward.

Will the State of California once again serve as a bellwether for the rest of the nation? Certainly one would think not, at least in the most conservative parts of country. However, we’ve seen California in the past be an impetus for adoption in other states of its groundbreaking legislation, including on such topics as automobile emissions standards and medical marijuana.

Will this ruling now lead to a flood of same-sex marriages once again, as was the case in February 2004? One can only think that there are probably plenty of same sex couples who would like to have their annulled marriages once again made official.

Read more on this story...

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But once again, for better or worse, San Francisco is in the limelight of the national focus.


Filed under: Same-Sex Marriage
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. JUDY

    Homosexuality is a sin just like stealing, lying, murdering is a sin, what seperates a true christian from the rest is how you handle this sin, do you give in to it, or do you turn from your sin and ask forgiveness for your sin. Punishment is comming to America, just like Sodom and Gorimorah, what is going to be bad about this punishment is that innocent people will also have to suffer the judgement for homosexuality, because it "rains on the just and unjust alike.

    June 16, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Tina

    I thought Ca already granted same sex marriage the other day. You know what, it is a case that certainly needs attention, but can wait till the election is over. Why take your eyes off that? Transportation is important, exporting , importing, and getting to where you need to go. Go, go , go, where in the neighbor hood , not the world, are we gonna go? I hope some people will come out with a good history book. Starting around 1810. Loved John Adams.

    May 19, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  3. Jim

    We humans all want to create our own lives with no "code" to judge it
    by. We draw our lines for right and wrong all over the place depending
    on the "value" of the day and how we "feel" about the issue. Hey people, it has nothing to do with how we feel we want it, it is how it is
    in reality. God sets the rules, we don't, Meanwhile, let them get married if they want, our job is to continue loving, That goes for conservative and liberal alike!

    May 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  4. John, Alabama

    For those of you quoting the Bible, the issue is between the person and God. Christ said many times in many ways, "Judge not." You don't have the right to interfere.

    May 18, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  5. Michelle

    there are two different ways to interpret the constitution. One is implied... viewing it as a living document. meaning that it can change its meaning based on the times.

    Or, it can be interpreted as is. Stict constitutionalists are usually conservatives. the document is set in stone, the words cannot be misconstrued to say anything else.

    californian conservative legislatures are angry because the 'conservative court' overstepped the bounds of their aunthority. they say that the court is not to make new laws.,... but, honey, they weren't. they were reviewing the legitimacy of a law already in place.... thats the job of the courts. our governent is set up to make checks and balances, with each branch given a specific task. the legislative body makes the laws, the executive can approve or veo it, and the courts have to test the legitimacy of the law. and if a law is then valid, then its the job of the executive to enforce it. however, if it is not a valid law and is in violation of rights granted in the state and national consitutions, it is therefore the job of the judiciary system to identify where it is in the red and put a stop to it immediately.

    the word 'gay' is not in the constitution, nor, really, is there the word 'man' or 'woman' so.... really, how can a conservative court take the rights granted to people in the first, 14, and 9, amendments away when it does not specify who, or what certain preference they have? it says person. not man. not woman. not gay, lesbian, bisexual, or tansgender. (if you are curious on what these amendments say, look in your kids' american history text book, or government text book, or look above to one of my previous posts)

    whether or not you think this lifestyle is unholy is beside the point. the fact is the world is much bigger than you are, and their are seven billion people all struggling with some sort of moral dilemna of their own.... so... in essence get over yourselves, what makes you so special that you can deny someone else a right, when in reality, you aren't that special after all? the constitution doesn't rcognize any specific gender, any specific religion, and any specific orientation.

    don't attack the system. they did their job.

    May 17, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  6. Kevin

    In a 4-3 vote, the CA Supreme Court makes history. It was a close vote. As the Supreme Court mentions in its decision, Perez v. Sharp was also a 4-3 vote in 1948. This decision allowed interracial marriage. At that time the majority of the population was against interracial marriage, but the CA Supreme Court did the right thing. Almost no one today would argue with that. Today they did it again!

    May 17, 2008 at 3:24 am |
  7. Chris

    As I read more of this, I find it some how to be almost funny yet extremely sad at the same time.So many bigots, so little nothing better to do than try to tell people how to live there lives.
    If gays and lesbians bother you people so damn much, here is a really simple solution.IGNORE IT, seriously, they are just as entitled to happiness as we are regardless of sexual preference.
    I noticed people trying to use the bible against the gay community, well lets go that route real quick, the bible also states that " ALL MAN IS CREATED EQUAL" it does NOT say all straight chritians, it says ALL MAN, it does NOT say gay or straight.Next we have a part in Luke, sorry dont remember exactly where as I used my bible for good use ( the pages make great charcoal starters in bar b ques, but to my point and sorry it will not be 100 percent accurate but it says ( to an extent) says, that god will pass the same judgment on to you that you pass on to others.So having said that, I must confess yes I am an Atheist and always happy to use the bible against christians, it makes my day.
    Anyway back the ignorance, this is a state law NOT a movement of the church, that state made this choice and yes I back them, so the church needs to just back off and let people live there own lives since the christians dont seem to have lives of there own.

    May 17, 2008 at 2:40 am |
  8. Chris (Canada)

    First off, being gay is not a lifestyle, being vegan, being environtment friendly, playing sports those are lifestyle. Lets visit the defintion of a lifestyle, "a lifestyle is the way a person lives". Being gay doesnt define a person who they are, what they do in life defines a person.

    For all the god people out there, your pretty quick to take out those quotes from the bible, but do you also practice what you preach, do you follow all of gods rules. Im going to guess no you dont, so stop being a hypocrict.

    Paul,- Think of this how often to kids spend at home 50% of there time wheres the other 50% school. So its safe to say that the home is not the only thing that has a influence on the child, in developing there sexual identity. Children also develop there sexual identity over a period of years, its not defined on whos there parents are, my parents are straight and im gay. Also if we left it up to the people to decied things inter-racial marriage prob wouldnt of happened un till the 80's because the people voted agaisnt inter-racial marriage, and then the courts system steped in turned over the idea.

    What it comes down to is equal rights for everyone and not creating second class citizens.

    For everyone that says its a choice think about this question

    When did you choose to be heterosexual?

    May 17, 2008 at 12:44 am |
  9. Oh No Not Again

    Conservatives needed a reason!!
    Funny how a Conservative Court is the one to give the Conservatives a reason to come out and vote. Gay marriage are you joking they will get out and vote now with bells on.

    May 16, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Chris

    The Commissioners had to choose between Government and their Religion. They worked for the Government and chose their religion over their duty to their job and the law. Their rights were trampled on by themselves, not by outsiders.

    May 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  11. Terry

    "If churches don’t want to marry gay folks, they don’t have to..."

    Great sentiment but once the laws have been opened up, it will soon become illegal to refuse to marry gay couples. Look to Canada for proof of that. We have had several marriage comissioners who have had their licenses revoked because they indicated that because of their religious convictions, they could not marry gay couples. Now whose rights are being trampled on?! The right to religious freedom has now taken a back seat to the rights of <3% of the population. This is the wave of the future, America!

    May 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  12. Chris

    These comments are fun! I’ve never read such hypocritical, holier than thou nonsense. It seems that there are a lot of people who need to go to a Civics 101 class. Government is not religion. The church has nothing to do with this decision. This is a governmental decision. If your particular church doesn’t want to “marry” homosexual people they won’t have to. But, under the Constitution you have the same rights as everybody else and the government must rule accordingly. You might also want to educate yourself on the facts that homosexuality is not a choice. Maybe your bible-thumping pastor doesn’t know this but an intelligent medical practitioner should. Secondly, where do you people get off equating Homosexuality with Bestiality, Polygamy and even drug abuse? If it didn’t point out your lack of education it would be a joke. You are sad, prejudiced, hypocrites. And “Adam & Steve” … really, that was cute when we were six years old and parroting our parents.
    Congratulations to the conservative California Supreme Court for knowing that the Gay Marriage Ban was unconstitutional.

    May 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  13. Michelle

    Okay, so I did some research, and I am about to reveal to you some evidence that supports what I am talking about. Legal Evidence. Evidence in the highest degree... you can't dispute it, though you may interpret it differently....you can't change what it says.

    My first argument about freedom of expression is backed up in the following Constitutional Amendment. Thats right, Amendment One.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    So this says that Congress.... and the Goverment cannot establish Religion nor stop people from having one... what this means is that any religious message (morals) cannot be put into law. So... banning someone from having the right to marriage based on their orientation is a moral issue... and if you read the constitution, you'll see that its supposed to be a secular document.

    Also, Freedom of Speech is important here. Getting married is an agreement freely given by two consenting adults... trying to stop someone from getting married is in violation of the first ammendment write. Speech in not just verbal, but written, it is also expression. Showing your love for someone by having a wedding ceremony is expressing your commitment.

    To the fellow who is uncomfortable about Gay Prode Festivities... read the first ammendment. there is a little something in there that addresses the citizen's right to peacefully assemble. you say you are supportive of gay rights, but yet you get weirded out be their open display. if it sickens you then you still have a problem with it. you can always just turn away.

    my second argument was that states have to abide by the federal bill of rights in accordance to their own constitutions... within their borders. you can find this little bit in the 14th amendment.

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    ha. this means that the federal government is above the state and local governments and that the constitution has to be applied everywhere. if it isn't in the constitution, then the states can choose whether or not to have a certain law, but if it is, then there is no choice. it says in black and white that no state can deny anyone life liberty and property. people are free to live life as they choose, without fear of discrimination by the government. they are also entitled to property, and joint property should there be marriage. to the person who said that marriage is a privelege, well... doesn't this amendment say that no state can make any law that abridges the priveleges of the citizens?

    You can throw "God" into the equation if you want, but... honestly, if "He" really had a problem with it, wouldn't "He" make "Himself" known and voice "His" opinions? How do you know what "He" wants? Have you ever had a conversation with the "Almighty"? Does "He" answer back when you pray? how do you know if "He" is really a "she" or some nueter that has yet to be defined? You say that this so-called "God" would not want this to be law, but "He's" conveniently out of the picture....

    also.. the ninth amendment states that

    "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    So.. in essence, since the rights are so numerous that they can't be listed, i think it is safe to say that a person has the right to choose his or her own sexual preference. and the right to privacy, also here, it may not be explicitly stated in any article or ammendment, can be placed in this category. ha-ha!!

    As for the Bible... yes, it says something to the effect of Homosexuality is an "abomination". ok, if you are going to take it literally, well... why are pigs being eaten? it also states that eating pork is an "abomination"... actually i believe it is on the same page as the other one. (i don't have a bible anywhere near me, so i can't realy be sure) if you are going to take this book seriously, well... maybe take all of it seriously and literally. perhaps some of you didn't know that the old testiment of the Bible.... is actually the Jewish Torah? How would you feel if i suggested that Christianity Stems from Judism... and the last two thousand something years it branched, following someone? Religions change. they come from one branch, and then all of a sudden here's something completely different.

    I'm only 18. And i'm not a religious person. in fact, though i respect Religions, i do not choose to partake in one. i personally do not believe that there is this supreme being floating around in the heavens, nor do i believe that tolerance has to be close minded. but if you are going to use your religion as a reason to think a certain way, fine, i understand.... but you have to be respectful of someone elses viewpoints too. we have the freedom of expression.... not one religion is better than anyother... and as an outsider i think i have the nuetrality to suggest that all religions have their faults.

    And if being an Atheist makes me gay... well... so be it. i'm into dudes. though i have the wrong parts to be a dude, i'm still a gay man trapped in a woman's body. you call it heterosexuality, think about it.

    Here's another MORAL shocker... what are you going to do about premarital sex? OMG!!! in the state of california it is illegal for minors to consent to sex with other minors.... oops. kinda broke that law, now didn't i? i haven't heard of a california case where to teenagers got in trouble for a little tussel in the bushes... have you? I know that one kid in georgia i think got in trouble... but i think this law violoates the ninth amendment right to privacy...

    May 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Angel

    to Jean, IN--WELL SAID!!
    God does not interfer with "free will" but judgement day is coming

    May 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  15. Paul

    As a psychology major, I find it very difficult to ignore the common-sense evidence that a child living with parents of the same sex is adversely affected by the absence of either a male or female parent to
    emulate. This is how children develop their sexual identity. It is very sad that the gay and lesbian community lie about this to justify their own sinful lifestyle. The vast majority of Americans believe in the common-sense definition of a family as consisting of one woman, one man, and oh yes, children. The courts should not decide this issue, but the people should. This is why there are 27 states that presently ban same-sex "marriage". If one studies the family system of a gay or lesbian individual, it is highly likely that he or she was raised in a family with a very weak and passive member of the same sex, so that they could not develop their sexual identity in a healthy way. I challenge us to look at the evidence around us; let's not lie to ourselves anymore about true truth.

    May 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Jim

    All these ppl saying it's god's laws god's will god's marriage yes i agree and you should do so if your choice is to believe in god. It's my choice not to believe in god and it shouldn't concern you. Don't u get it already that not everybody believe in god. I am so fed up that everything is god related. Can't you think for yourself ? God tells you when to be born, to die to F***, to get married why don't god tell you when to shut up ?

    May 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  17. Karen

    I as a Christian felt very sad that this passed today. I am not against giving 2 people that choose to live together the same rights as a married couple (misc medical benefits, pension plan etc) these are man made laws. What I am against is that they have taken a word "marriage" that is the name given to us by God and turned that word into a mockery. Call it any other word but not a marriage. If they choose to live this way on this earth than so be it because they will never be given eternal life which is what we as Christians know we will have when this life is over. People are living today for this life filled with sin and destruction not by how the Bible instructs and demands us to live. People need to realize God is a loving God but he is also a God to be feared.. he wants us to obey his commandments.. It states very clearly men don't lie with men and women don't lie with women so if they don't worry about eternal life let them have the same rights that apply to married couples as far as mans laws...for Gods laws will apply differently.

    May 16, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  18. Tim, Baltimore, MD

    This is my 2nd posting. So why the hell is polygamy still illegal? Free that up too you dumb ass Californians. If I want equal rights for me and 10 consenting women, I should have them, shouldn't I? It's legal in some countries too, isn't it? And while you're at it, legalize cocaine and marijuana too.

    May 16, 2008 at 9:25 am |
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