San Francisco, CA – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a request from anti-marriage forces to reconsider its landmark ruling in Perry v. Brown that found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Proposition 8 stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
“Today’s order is yet another federal court victory for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in California and around the nation,” said AFER co-founder Chad Griffin.
“The final chapter of the Proposition 8 case has now begun. Should the United States Supreme Court decide to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in our case, I am confident that the Justices will stand on the side of fairness and equality.”
On February 7, 2012, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit concluded that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Ninth Circuit panel majority held:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
The request for a larger eleven-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit to reconsider the case, known as rehearing en banc, is only granted upon a majority vote of the Ninth Circuit’s 25 judges in regular active service at the time Proponents’ petition was filed. There was no such majority vote today and so the decision stands unless it is taken up by The Supreme Court of the United States, which may do so in its discretion. If it does not take up the case, then California same-sex marriage is back in business as rights are restored,
The Ninth Circuit also rejected Proponents’ renewed attempt to impugn the reputation of the United States District Chief Judge who struck down Proposition 8. Unable to defend Proposition 8 on its merits, Proponents claim that the now-retired Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker was disqualified from ruling on Proposition 8 and that his historic decision should be vacated because he is gay and in a committed relationship. The Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected Proponents’ offensive argument, stating: “To do otherwise would demonstrate a lack of respect for the integrity of our federal courts.”
In the meantime the stay preventing California same-sex marriages remains in place.