Prop 8 proponents asking for full appeals court review

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AFER attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies with plaintiffs Sandy Stier and Kris Perry. – PHOTO: Diana Walker

Proponents of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 are preparing to ask the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a recent ruling against the controversial ballot measure.

When the three-judge panel earlier this year issued its finding that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, it was unclear whether Prop 8’s defenders would seek a review by the full appeals court or go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prop 8, passed by a narrow majority of voters in November 2008, amended the California Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

A district court and an appeals court panel both have ruled that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, setting up a Supreme Court consideration on same-sex marriage. 

But on Feb. 21, ProtectMarriage, proponents of Prop 8, announced that they first will seek consideration by the appeals court.

ProtectMarriage attorney Andy Pugno said Prop 8 supporters decided they wanted to give the court an opportunity to correct its opinion. "There is just no way the entire 9th Circuit would sign off on a decision like this," he told the AP.

The appeals panel, in a 2-1 decision, found that Prop 8 serves no purpose other than to lessen the dignity and status of gay and lesbian Californians, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.

The court held that:

• "'Marriage' is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.  A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.  The word ‘marriage’ is singular in connoting ‘a harmony in living,’ ‘a bilateral loyalty,’ and ‘a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.’"

• “The official, cherished status of ‘marriage’ is distinct from the incidents of marriage, such as those listed in the California Family Code. . . .  We do not celebrate when two people merge their bank accounts; we celebrate when a couple marries."

• “Before Proposition 8, California guaranteed gays and lesbians both the incidents and the status and dignity of marriage.  Proposition 8 left the incidents [of marriage] but took away the status and the dignity."

• “It is implausible to think that denying two men or two women the right to call themselves married could somehow bolster the stability of families headed by one man and one woman. . . .  The argument that withdrawing the designation of ‘marriage’ from same-sex couples could on its own promote the strength or stability of opposite-sex marital relationships lacks any such footing in reality."

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