This week, an emergency stay was ordered on a District Court judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state of California. Earlier this month, the judge ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the emergency stay. However, in addition to the stay, the case was also expedited. The opening brief is scheduled for September and oral arguments have been scheduled in the beginning of December.
What are the arguments? Opponents of Proposition 8 argue that the ban discriminates against gays and lesbians and "is irrational because it singles out gays and lesbians for unequal treatment, as they and they alone may not marry the person of their choice."
Proponents of the ban argue that Proposition 8 promotes the stability of traditional relationships between man and woman, supports the optimal family structure, and "affirms the will of California citizens."
Same-sex marriage in other states? While the ruling to overturn Proposition 8 only affects California, if the case is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision upholding the ruling would affect all states that currently ban same-sex marriage.
Federal statutes, such as ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), do not recognize same-sex marriage because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA, which was passed in 1996, only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman. States are left to decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage.
Currently, there are only five states that have legalized same-sex marriage.
- New Hampshire
Other states have laws that provide legal recognition of domestic partnerships, including California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.