In 2008, voters passed a ballot measure called Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, but, in August of this year, a federal district judge struck down the measure, ruling that it was unconstitutional to treat same-sex couples differently. That ruling was then challenged and recently, a federal appeals panel of three judges heard arguments in a session that was, most unusually, broadcast live on television.
The first issue brought before the panel: Do opponent of same-sex marriage have authority or standing to appeal the August ruling? California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other state officials had declined to bring an appeal. Charles Cooper, the attorney for Protect Marriage, the group behind Proposition 8, cited past cases that allow outside groups to bring a case.
The panel of judges appeared dubious about whether the ban supporters were qualified to appeal, but also seemed worried about allowing the governor and attorney general to effectively kill Prop 8 by refusing to defend it. Arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage proponents, attorney David Boies said the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that only injured parties have authority to seek appeal.
The second portion of the hearing went to the constitutional issue, whether the voter-approved ban violated the federal civil rights of California's gays and lesbians. An issue of protecting children from gay marriage was also discussed in which same-sex marriage proponents deemed discriminatory. The panel is expected to rule on the case soon. That decision will then likely be appealed to the full 9th Circuit and is eventually expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.
"If the state doesn't defend it, it's just tossing in the towel. The governor is not allowed to veto this measure, but he can in effect veto it." - Hon. Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
"It is important to focus on the fundamental fact that California has engraved discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation into its fundamental governing charter." - Theodore Olson, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs
"The key reason that marriage has existed at all in any society and at any time is that sexual relationships between men and women naturally produce children." - Charles Cooper, attorney, Protect Marriage
1. Define marriage.
2. What is a civil union?
3. How are laws made?
1. Why do you think some people are opposed to same-sex marriage?
2. Can you name any states where same-sex marriage is allowed?
3. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized? Why or why not?
Lesson Plan: Constitutional Amendments and Gay Marriage: