The California Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a ban on same-sex marriage but allowed the 18,000 gay couples who were married before the voter-approved ban went into effect to stay married.
The 6-1 decision stated that the California initiative process allows the public to rewrite the state’s constitution. Proposition 8 passed last November with 52 percent of the vote.
The ruling was sharply criticized by the gay community who vowed to continue their fight to make same-sex marriages legal. A large crowd of gay advocates gathered on the steps of the San Francisco courthouse and shouting “Shame on you” after the decision was released.
Over 30 states have a ban on same-sex marriages. Currently three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa — allow gay marriage. In two other states — Vermont and Maine — the state legislature earlier this year passed bills allowing same-sex marriage that will go into effect later this year.
The California decision said that same-sex couples have the right to civil unions, which gives them the right to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.”
The key legal issue in the case was whether Proposition 8 was an amendment or a revision to the state constitution. A revision has a higher standard — needing a two-thirds vote by the legislature before it can be put to the voters as an initiative. An amendment only needs a certain number of signatures to be placed on the ballot.