California Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage today, ratifying a decision made by voters last year at a time when several state governments have moved in an opposite direction.

The decision, however, preserves the 18,000 marriages performed between the court’s decision last May that same-sex marriage was lawful and the passage by voters in November of Proposition 8, which banned it. Supporters of the proposition argued that the marriages should no longer be recognized.

Today’s opinion, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability 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.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Read it all and follow the link to the opinion itself.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government

Posted May 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. libraryjim wrote:

Good for them. But there will be rioting in the streets tonight.  I’ve already gotten word from California friends on Facebook that there are protesters tying up traffic.

May 26, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
2. Cennydd wrote:

I predict that if an initiative ever gets on the ballot to overturn this ruling, it will lose.  And it will stay lost.

May 26, 5:56 pm | [comment link]
3. Charles wrote:

#1 - there is a protest in Kansas City as well, meaning there will probably be protests across the country. 

#2 - you can bet your bottom dollar that this will be overturned by popular vote in the next five years.

May 26, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
4. Mark Johnson wrote:

This is only a minor set-back for equal rights.  Thankfully, as has been said, the arch of history is long, but it always bends towards justice.  God will provide!

May 26, 6:27 pm | [comment link]
5. Hakkatan wrote:

Mark, if same-sex marriage is just, why did God forbid it?

May 26, 6:30 pm | [comment link]
6. GrandpaDino wrote:

Upholding Proposition 8 - Hooray!

Upholding fake ‘marriages’ - Boo!

May 26, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
7. deaconmark wrote:

I think the next proposition rather than seeking to overturn Prop 8 should forbid heterosexual divorce (it is after all commanded in the Bible).  I think better than anything it would allow people to decide how closely they wish to be held by law to the commands of the Bible and to demand that others follow their belief system.

May 26, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
8. Br. Michael wrote:

Why is it equal rights for two to get married and not 3?  Or more?  What is magical about the arbitrary number 2?

May 26, 7:20 pm | [comment link]
9. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Don’t worry, where’s two, three (or more) will come.  That’s what polygamy’s for, after all.  And polyandry.  And interspecies relationships.  And pederasty.  And anything else the Chicago Consultation can worm into the Sexual identity is not a bar to any level of ministry motions after they are passed.

May 26, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
10. the roman wrote:

I still scratch my head and wonder at those who equate a sexual impulse with ethnicity and therefore see their cause of same-sex marriage as a legitimate heir to the Civil Rights movement of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. I wonder if the people who fought those battles back then are equally sympathetic the ssm cause?

May 26, 8:20 pm | [comment link]
11. Ad Orientem wrote:

I have said it before and will say it again.  Government needs to get out of the marriage business and stick to civil unions (for everyone).  Leave the “marriage” issue to churches and synagogues.  There needs to be a strict separation between the two elements. 

Christ is risen!

May 26, 8:38 pm | [comment link]
12. robroy wrote:

The California made the totally illogical decision to recognize the previous “marriages” when Prop 8 states the state of California will recognize marriage between a man and a woman.

Totally illogical? Actually, it is very logical. This is a set up for appeal to federal courts and set a national precedent. The justices intentionally threw a wrench into their own decision.

May 26, 9:59 pm | [comment link]
13. Br. Michael wrote:

A question.  Is not homosexuality, indeed heterosexuality, grounded on a behavior?  That is, sexual behavior?  Does homo or hetero sexual orientation (if that even exists) exist apart from a behavior?

May 26, 10:24 pm | [comment link]
14. Ad Orientem wrote:

Re # 13
Br. Michael,
Yes, it exists apart from activity.  There are heterosexual and even homosexual persons who choose a life of continence.  Orientation I believe is real, though its causes are unclear.  But acting on orientation is a choice.

Christ is risen!

May 26, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
15. youngadult wrote:

#4 - amen.
#9 - don’t be absurd.  the chicago consultation is not for pederasty, et al. any more than others.  it has been and continues to be shamefully foolish to equate same-sex attraction with the numerous illegal ones.
#13 - certainly.  orientation depends on one’s attractions—physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.—not only sexual.  it is certainly real, and as noted above, can be considered whether one has engaged in sexual acts or not.

May 26, 11:24 pm | [comment link]
16. Br. Michael wrote:

So, if there is no behavior, how does one know?  Does orientation exist apart from feelings?  How is orientation expressed?  Does sexuality, as suggested by youngadult, exist in a vacuum?  Is all this about subjective feelings?  Does sex enter into this at all?  If not then so called homosexuals should have no problem entering into heterosexual behavior.

May 26, 11:55 pm | [comment link]
17. Larry Morse wrote:

See #11. I have appended the summary that I used to start my position paper for my church when LD1040 started to roil the waters here in Maine. This fight is hardly over, but if a compromise is to be reached, it must give each something each wants, and my summary provides precisely that rationale. (I would have printed the whole argument, but it is three pages long and I thought the elves might find that too long to be practical.)  Larry

    In the past, the word “marriage” referred to an undefined mix of civil and spiritual elements. This is no longer the case. “Marriage” has been separated into distinct categories: Civil partnerships and spiritual unions. The former identifies a state function; the latter a religious one.  The word “marriage” may not be applied to civil partnerships because (a) civil partnerships are, of necessity, devoid of all spiritual content and thus may not signify a fusion of spiritual identities, and (b) because the state may not regulate spiritual matters for First Amendment reasons. This is the rule: States provide civil benefits but may not marry; religious institutions may marry whom they will, but may not extend civil benefits. It follows that the phrase “civil marriage” is a contradiction in terms and should not be perpetuated. Nor is there any violation of equal rights since this restructuring applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals.

May 27, 12:08 am | [comment link]
18. jric777 wrote:

The acceptance of homosexuality as a normal construct of the human psyche and an acceptable policy in the church stems from insecurity. People see that their sinful nature is not accepted and misconceive that to mean that they are outcasts. That is fallacy and it is something that disappoints me about this “emerging church” nonsense. If we want to accept sin as righteousness, let’s throw the Bible out the window because everything in their says that sin is heinous and should be treated as such.
California chose the correct course of action and, God willing, it will stay!

P.S. - Re: #4 - Justice stems from truth. Justice is not served in allowing homosexuals to wed. If one is truly a Christian, they must understand the concept of sin! Justice is served today. Not to humans, but the the Risen Christ, for he gave his all to cleanse us from our sin and wickedness. Let us stop spitting in his face for it! There is no scripture that says this lifestyle is okay. As a matter of fact, there are many that show that homosexuality is sin.

May 27, 1:19 am | [comment link]
19. TomRightmyer wrote:

Has anyone else noted the irony of the pro-gay folks appealing to minority rights in the courts and denying them in the church?

May 27, 6:53 am | [comment link]
20. robroy wrote:

And we have this news story (

Tuesday morning, the court provided an answer when it upheld Proposition 8 but also ruled that gay marriages completed before the measure was approved would remain legal. Ride and her partner, Susan Craig, were among 46 gay or lesbian couples married at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena last year.

and this (

One of those couples is Ted Knoll, 63, and his spouse, Richard Cisneros, 54.

The Whittier couple, who’ve been together for 23 years, were married July 3, 2008 by an Episcopal priest in a private ceremony.

Bruno know about the 46 couples married in HIS diocese??? Shocking! Wait, I thought the homosexuality moratoria are mostly holding.

May 27, 7:07 am | [comment link]
21. Brian from T19 wrote:


Br Michael and dwstroud simply “cut and paste” these arguments from their older posts.  They know that they hold no water, but they like to be shocking to scare people into the kind of fear that got prop H8 passed in the first place.  Save your efforts.

May 27, 9:27 am | [comment link]
22. Br. Michael wrote:

And Brian engages in invective from his older posts.

May 27, 10:09 am | [comment link]
23. Br. Michael wrote:

Here is the point made by Maggie Gallagher (I disagree on her acceptance of the concept of orientation):

Equality is typically predicated on characteristics that do not imply actions, because actions are always choices. Skin color is irrelevant. And unchosen. Sexual orientation is almost certainly unchosen, but the decision to incorporate a sexual desire into one’s identity, and then to act on it, is a decision. Maybe most people think it’s the right decision, the healthiest decision, but the point is that it’s a choice, and subject to moral reflection. A sexual desire is not its own justification.

And a further step in moral reasoning is needed to elevate the right to do what one wishes in private into a right to enter a gay marriage. Gay marriage as an equality right thus represents a strange new hybrid — it’s the right to act in a certain way, to have the state and other institutions bless one’s actions, and to punish people (the way we punish bigots) for expressing disagreement with those actions. It is a totally novel equality right, an equality right on steroids.

May 27, 10:14 am | [comment link]
24. D. C. Toedt wrote:

TomRightmyer [#19] writes: “Has anyone else noted the irony of the pro-gay folks appealing to minority rights in the courts and denying them in the church?

What rights are being denied to others by the pro-gay folks?  As others have said so eloquently, if you’re against homosexual marriage, then don’t marry a homosexual; certainly the pro-gay folks aren’t forcing you to do so.

If by “rights” you mean the so-called right to have church offices held exclusively by people adhering to positions you favor; the ‘right’ to have your particular theological views trump all others no matter what; etc. — well, that’s a horse of a different color.

May 27, 10:40 am | [comment link]
25. Brian from T19 wrote:

According to the APA:
Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).


Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.

May 27, 10:58 am | [comment link]
26. youngadult wrote:

#25 - thanks brian.  it is a nice breath of fresh air to hear such clear statements from outside reputable groups like the apa.  thanks for always being ready to stand up and give well-thought, impassive responses in the face of strong opposition.

May 27, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
27. Br. Michael wrote:

The fact still remains that, even if it exists, homosexual orientation involves a behavior.  Even under the quoted defininition, at a minimum, you have an attraction.  This is far different from eye color and skin color.  And the APA is hardly neutral.

May 27, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
28. Cennydd wrote:

#3   Charles, what make you so sure that this ruling will be overturned?  Do you have inside information?

May 27, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
29. Charles wrote:

#28 - no inside info at all.  I’m just confident that the people of California will vote to overturn it next time it comes up on the ballot.

May 27, 6:49 pm | [comment link]
30. clayton wrote:

The link to civil rights is that, not all that long ago, it would have been illegal to marry the person you loved, if that person was of a different race.  You could love someone and want to commit to them…but you couldn’t, because other people didn’t think that you belonged together.  Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to us now, when many of our friends are in interracial marriages and doing just fine and raising wonderful families?  Still, I wonder what would have happened if there had been a popular vote on that one; would the majority ever have said it was finally okay for people to marry across color lines?  I doubt my parents would have voted for it (although they love their brownish grandchildren, so go figure). 

I would have much preferred to have this decided by the courts and not through a popular vote; there are times when direct democracy is not the right plan.

May 27, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
31. libraryjim wrote:


But the people of California voted TWICE FOR this amendment.  There is no indication that the majority of voters in California regret their action on this issue.

May 27, 9:54 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): LA Times: Same Sex issues may Further splinter churches

Previous entry (below): The Diocese of New Jersey Standing Committee says No to Northern Michigan

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)