Gay-rights groups disappointed by Proposition 8 ruling
from L.A. NOW
Gay-rights groups expressed disappointment with the California Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 are entitled to defend the ban on same-sex marriage in court because the state refuses to do so, setting the stage for a showdown in the federal courts.
“We disagree profoundly with the California Supreme Court’s holding that a handful of unelected initiative sponsors have the power to represent the interests of the entire public and to override the decisions of the state’s elected executive officers,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
But she said the group was relieved that the challenge of Proposition 8 was “once again moving forward” and that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would soon decide the case.
“We hope the 9th Circuit will issue its decision soon and hasten the day when this damaging law is off the books,” Kendell said.
Another gay-rights group, Love Honor Cherish, said it had also hoped that the court would decline to give the backers of Proposition 8 standing.
“This ruling means that it may be years before loving gay and lesbian couples will again be able to marry in California,” said Love Honor Cherish Board Chair Tom Watson.
The California Supreme Court decision sets the stage for action in federal courts that would affect marriage bans outside California and could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In its ruling Thursday, the state high court stressed that the ruling had nothing to do with gay marriage.
“The resolution of this procedural question does not turn on the substance of the particular initiative measure at issue, but rather on the purpose and integrity of the initiative process itself,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakueye wrote for the court.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors the standing, or legal authority, to defend their measures.
State officials are entitled to champion ballot measures in court, but the governor and the attorney general have refused to defend Proposition 8.
Although the 9th Circuit is not bound by Thursday’s ruling, the decision makes it less likely that the appeals court would decide Proposition 8’s future on narrow, standing grounds. Instead, the case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, which would ultimately decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.