Court rejects appeal to overturn Proposition 8 ruling—case could head to Supreme Court

Pueng Vongs
The Lookout

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that it will not review a three-judge panel's decision to overturn California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.

Following this ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Proposition 8 proponents plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, putting the battle for same-sex marriage on a national stage. The Supreme Court could decide to hear the case as part of its docket next year.

The ruling comes after a federal appeals court in Boston ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that says states don't have to recognize gay marriages in other states and defines marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes, violates the Constitution and should be struck down. This case could also go before the  Supreme Court next year.

In February, a three-judge panel in California voted 2 to 1 against the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, upholding an earlier decision by Judge Vaughn Walker. The panel said that by denying marriage rights, Proposition 8 violated the equal protection clause and due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"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 court wrote in February. Proposition  8 supporters appealed, asking for a larger panel of the court to review the case.

[Related: Encore presentation of gay marriage play "8'' led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt]

The February decision was narrowly written and focused on the voter-approved measure in California, however, which may make it less likely the Supreme Court would hear the case, reports KQED.

Proposition 8 sponsors say they are eager to take the matter before the Supreme Court. "The legal team looks forward to standing before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the people's right to preserve the fundamental building block of civilization, especially since the dissent accompanying today's decision strongly supports our arguments," said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Brian Raum in a statement.

Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that represented the two couples that challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8 released this statement: "Over and over, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 have been turned back in their effort to ensure that gay and lesbian Americans remain second-class citizens," he said.  "Should our case be heard by the United States Supreme Court, I am confident the Justices will stand on the side of fairness and equality."

Same-sex couples in California will not be allowed to marry right away while Proposition 8 supporters are given a chance to appeal, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

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