By Maura Dolan
11:44 AM PDT, May 26, 2009
Reporting from San Francisco — The California Supreme Court today upheld Proposition 8′s ban on same-sex marriage but also ruled that gay couples who wed before the election will continue to be married under state law.
The decision virtually ensures another fight at the ballot box over marriage rights for gays. Gay rights activists say they may ask voters to repeal the marriage ban as early as next year, and opponents have pledged to fight any such effort. Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote.
Although the court split 6-1 on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the justices were unanimous in deciding to keep intact the marriages of as many as 18,000 gay couples who exchanged vows before the election. The marriages began last June, after a 4-3 state high court ruling striking down the marriage ban last May.
Justice Ronald M. George, writing for the majority, said Proposition 8 did “not entirely repeal or abrogate” same-sex couples’ right to privacy and due process or the “constitutional right of same-sex couples to ‘choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship.’
“Instead, the measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights.”
In an allusion to the state’s domestic partners law, George noted that Proposition 8 left undisturbed “all of the other extremely significant substantive aspects of a same-sex couple’s state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and the guarantee of equal protection under the laws.”
In addition to rejecting the gay-rights lawyers’ contention that Proposition 8 was an illegal constitutional revision, the court also flatly discarded Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown’s argument that the measure was unconstitutional because it affected an “inalienable right.”
But the court said “well-established legal principles” require that Proposition 8 be applied only prospectively, leaving intact same-sex marriages that occurred before the November election…
Gee, thanks for a shitty consolation prize California…