A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex weddings, was unconstitutional, marking a victory for supporters of same-sex marriage across the state.
The 2-1 decision will likely be appealed to either the full 9th Circuit Court or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain and use the designation of 'marriage' to describe their relationships," according to the court's decision. "Nothing more, nothing less. Proposition 8 therefore could not have been enacted to advance California's interests in child-rearing or responsible procreation, for it had no effect on the rights of same-sex couples to raise children or on the procreative practices of other couples. Nor did Proposition 8 have any effect on religious freedom or on parents' rights to control their children's education; it could not have been enacted to safeguard those liberties."
Prop. 8 was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent after it was placed on November 2008 ballots.
Despite the court ruling today, a stay on gay marriages in California will remain in effect while the court case continues.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man to serve on the body, said he was elated by the decision.
"It gives Californians the respect that they should be getting," he said. "We don't have a our basic civil and human rights in our relationships."
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—City News Service contributed to this report.