11-05-2008

Proposition 8 - California

The State of California passes PROPOSITION 8, overturning a recent state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples who had married or planned to marry, the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the county of Santa Clara joined together the following day in a series of three lawsuits against the proposition.

The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $39.9 million and $43.3 million, respectively, becoming the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot and surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except the presidential contest. After the elections, demonstrations and protests occurred across the state and nation. Same-sex couples and government entities filed numerous lawsuits with the California Supreme Court challenging the proposition’s validity and effect on previously administered same-sex marriages. In the Strauss v. Horton case, the court upheld Proposition 8, but allowed existing same-sex marriages to stand (under the Grandfather clause principle). U.S. district court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Proposition 8 on August 4, 2010 in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruling that it violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Walker issued an injunction against enforcing Proposition 8 and a stay to determine suspension of his ruling pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals continued the stay, keeping Judge Walker’s ruling on hold pending appeal

The quest for marriage equality has created some unlikely allies in attorneys Theodore Olson, a conservative, and David Boies, a liberal. Long well-known within the field of law, the two became nationally famous as the opposing counsels in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that halted the Florida recount, and resolved the 2000 Presidential election in favor of George W. Bush.

The two lawyers, both veterans of multiple Supreme Court cases, mounted a well-financed legal challenge to Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ballot initiative that put an end to same-sex marriage in that state. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision on the appeal in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, ruling that proponents of initiatives such as Proposition 8 did not possess legal standing in their own right to defend the resulting law in federal court, either to the Supreme Court or (previously) to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore the Supreme Court both dismissed the appeal and directed the Ninth Circuit to vacate (withdraw) its decision, which had upheld the district court ruling. The decision left the district court’s 2010 ruling intact.[ On June 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay of the district court’s ruling, enabling Governor Jerry Brown to order same-sex marriages to resume.

Along with the overturn by the Supreme Court of the Defense of Marriage Act, the obstacles to marriage equality quickly began to crumble. Marriage is now available in fourteen states and Washington D.C.