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California Supreme Court Says ‘Yes and No’ to Marriage Equality

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GayMarriageOn May 26, the California Supreme Court issued its ruling in our Proposition 8 legal challenge. The court’s ruling validated same-sex marriages that took place between June 16 and November 4, 2008, assuring those marriages remain legally valid and recognized by the state of California.

However, the court upheld the ban on future same-sex marriages approved by voters in November, arguing that the proposition was an amendment to the state constitution and not a revision. A revision of the constitution requires two-thirds approval of lawmakers to pass before it goes to the voters, according to a statement released by the California-based organization, Yes on Gay Marriage.

“This is not the end of the journey,” said Kelley Moran, national director for Yes on Gay Marriage. “The Court’s ruling only helps us refocus on the issues of changing state laws to allow gay marriage, of equal protection under the law, and of repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Until DOMA is repealed, gay couples who marry in any state that allows it are still denied federal rights, responsibilities, and obligations that heterosexual couples already enjoy.

“DOMA violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law,” Moran continued. “According to General Accounting Office reports, DOMA denies 1,138 benefits to gays who marry. The United States Congress has an obligation, I believe, to repeal DOMA so that all U.S. citizens enjoy equal protection under the law.”

Paul Scott, executive director of Equality Texas, extended his organization’s support to Californians who continue to oppose Proposition 8. “We will support our friends in California when they go back to the ballot to overturn Proposition 8,” Scott said. “We know they will ultimately be successful because more people now understand how harmful it is to take away equal rights from families,” Scott added.

Locally, Houston GLBT Political Caucus president Kris Banks expressed sadness at the ruling. “First of all, we are sad for our friends in California, where the state supreme court reaffirmed Proposition 8, which took away the right to marry from same-sex couples,” he said in a statement to the press.

“But even the supposed ‘good news,’ that same-sex marriages performed before the proposition passed will remain valid, serves as nothing but a cruel mockery for Houstonians and Texans. Those marriages may remain valid in California, but the moment those same-sex couples pass the Texas state line, they have no rights. That’s because a Texas constitutional amendment, passed in 2005, took those rights away.

“But we want to make sure our community and those who support us are aware that there is action they can take to advance equality right here in Houston,” continued Banks. “Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people must stand behind the members of our community who are ready to lead, including openly gay and lesbian candidates like Annise Parker, who is running for mayor, and Maverick Welsh, who is in a runoff in just three weeks for Houston City Council.

“We ask that our community turn its anger into action and get involved in these local races.” – by Nancy Ford

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