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Other News: California Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban

May 26, 2009 at 1:31 PM EDT
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In other news, the California Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on gay marriage in a 6-1 decision, and U.S. consumer confidence soared to its highest level in May since last September.

JIM LEHRER: And in the other news today, California’s ban on gay marriage passed muster with the State Supreme Court in a 6-1 decision. But thousands of marriages performed before the ban are still valid.

NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports from San Francisco.

SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour correspondent: Just moments after the ruling was issued, supporters of gay marriage began jeering from the steps of the State Supreme Court’s main courthouse…

PROTESTORS: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!

SPENCER MICHELS: … and then blocking nearby streets and intersections to voice their anger.

The ban in the form of Proposition 8 was approved by 52 percent of California voters last November. The initiative, a constitutional amendment, was a reaction to a ruling from the same court one year ago legalizing same-sex nuptials on the grounds of equal protection of the law.

Gay marriage backers quickly sued to overturn Prop 8, and the court was asked to rule again.

It was evident from the tenor of the oral arguments nearly three months ago that the California Supreme Court was reluctant to overturn the vote of the people.

And today’s decision confirmed that: The justices ruled that it is legal for California voters to amend the California constitution to reserve the term “marriage” for opposite-sex couples.

But the court also let stand some 18,000 marriages of gay and lesbian couples. They took place between the initial decision to legalize the practice and the November vote to ban it.

In their ruling, the justices said Prop 8 had no explicit language applying it retroactively to the couples married earlier.

Bruce Ivie and David Bauers make up one of those couples. They had mixed reactions to the news.

BRUCE IVIE: It’s a disappointing day, but I feel good still, in a way, that these marriages, like ours, are valid.

DAVID BAUERS: Who are we really hurting by being married? I don’t get it. I’m lost now. I’m 62 years old, lost. I don’t understand the whole thing.

SPENCER MICHELS: On the other side of the issue, supporters of Prop 8 said they were pleased.

STEVE MACIAS: I’m very proud of our Supreme Court here in California that they have upheld the will of the people. I believe that it was the correct move. I believe that our movement will continue to strive for American family values.

SPENCER MICHELS: The battle over same-sex marriage has also spread to a number of other states. In fact, it is now legal in five other states: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Iowa.

And the fight will most likely continue in California. Supporters of gay marriage are planning to create their own ballot measure making it legal for 2010.

JIM LEHRER: Wall Street had a big day after news that consumer confidence rebounded in May. The Conference Board, a business research group, said shoppers are more optimistic now than they’ve been since last September.

In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 196 points, more than 2 percent, to close at 8,473. The Nasdaq rose 58 points to close at 1,750, up 3.5 percent.

General Motors faced a midnight deadline for bondholders to forgive $27 billion in debt. Otherwise, the automaker will be forced into federal bankruptcy by next Monday.

At the same time, the United Auto Workers prepared to vote on new cuts in wages and benefits. In return, the union would get up to 20 percent of G.M.’s common stock, among other things.

A new round of bombings has killed six Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. A suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan rammed a car bomb into a caravan of military vehicles. Three U.S. soldiers died in that blast.

And in Iraq, the U.S. military said a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy near Fallujah on Monday. That attack killed a U.S. soldier, a State Department official, and an American civilian.

In North Korea, there was more defiance, a day after the hard-line communist nation carried out its second nuclear test. We have a report from Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN MILLER: They celebrated their recalcitrance in style in Pyongyang today, presided over by the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Beneath banners and slogans reading “Long Live the Great Victory of the Military First Policy,” party cadres in this, the world’s only remaining Stalinist dictatorship, gathered to congratulate themselves on their uncrushability.

The dear leader himself wasn’t seemed to be present, but they cheered him on anyway.

Here’s what they were celebrating: The manmade earthquake apparently triggered by North Korea’s nuclear detonation. North Korea’s response to the world’s condemnation was to launch two more short-range missiles this morning.

Pyongyang’s ambassador to the U.N. brushed off reporters in New York today. Other countries’ hostility, though, later condemned by his deputy, “We’re only acting in self-defense,” he said.

PAK TOK HUN, deputy North Korean ambassador to the United Nations: What is important is to put an end to hostile policies, hostile policies in particular of the United States and Japan. We have no any other intention but to defend ourselves.

JONATHAN MILLER: The best hope of reining in North Korea lies with China. Beijing, which is close to Pyongyang, could put the squeeze on fuel supplies going in.

Today it, too, condemned the nuclear test.

MA ZHAOXU, spokesman, Chinese Foreign Ministry (through translator): The Chinese government expresses absolute opposition towards this. To realize a denuclearized peninsula, oppose nuclear proliferation, and protect the long-term peace and stability in Northeast Asia is the consistent position of the Chinese government.

JONATHAN MILLER: China fears instability in North Korea. And with the dear leader looking rather frail now, some say this grandstanding and the nuclear program itself is all about his errant regime’s long-term survival.

JIM LEHRER: The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, charged North Korea is trying to intimidate the world community. But, instead, she insisted the pressure on North Korea will increase.

The opposition leader in Myanmar took the stand in her own defense today. Aung San Suu Kyi told a court she did not violate her house arrest when she let an American man stay there. He swam a lake to her home earlier this month, then said he was too tired to leave. Suu Kyi has spent years under detention in the former Burma. If convicted, she could face another five-year term.