The United States Ninth District Court of appeals ruled today that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Their ruling upholds the landmark decision by U. S. District Court Judge Vaughn A. Walker declaring that Proposition 8, the voter approved California Constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage, is unconstitutional.
Orange County residents who want Prop 8 repealed will gather at Harvey Milk Plaza (aka Plaza Santa Ana) on the Northwest corner of East 4th Street and French Street in Santa Ana at 6 PM tonight. A coalition of organizations, including Orange County Equality Coalition and Gay Neighbors Families and Friends of Santa Ana, are organizing the event. The park is nicknamed Harvey Milk Plaza because of the annual Harvey Milk Day event held there since 2010. And like Milk, the speakers will address the hope for full inclusion of gay and lesbian couples in the American right to pursuit happiness, in this case, full access to marriage.
Day of Decision 3, as it is being called by organizers, will feature speakers and information about what the decision means and what further action is needed. The event program will begin at 6:30 PM.
Mel Distel, coordinator of the event, said “We want to give people an opportunity to be with supportive friends and allies as they react to the news. We also want to give people the best information we can about what to expect for the future.”
Read more about the ruling here.
Organizers of the rally responded to the decision in a press release late Tuesday:
“We have a lot to celebrate,” said Dave Hoen, one of the organizers of the Santa Ana group. Hoen, who married his partner the day Proposition 8 was passed by voters, is happy the Appellate Court saw things the same way Judge Walker did. “Those are very reassuring words to hear, even if we are already married.” He was referring to the Ninth Circuit Court’s phrase “Proposition 8 serves no purpose …other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”
While gays and lesbians human dignity has been affirmed, their right to marry has not been reinstated. The “stay” order remains in place until all appeals are exhausted. Many predict that it will go to the Supreme Court, which could result in no marriage licenses for same sex couples for the foreseeable future.
“We will find out more about what this means at the rally,” said Linda May, a board member of Orange County Equality Coalition. May is 62 and would like to marry her partner “before everyone we want at our wedding is too old or dead.”
American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization formed to fight Prop 8 in the courts, said “Today we are all more American.” They observed that the decision was carefully crafted and would be difficult to fight. It “eliminates government sponsored discrimination.”
Prop 8 is different than measures to disallow same-sex couples to marry in most other states because California had allowed same-sex couples to get marriage licenses, thus Prop 8 took away that right.
Rosanne Faul, attorney and Co-Chair of OCEC said she was especially pleased the Appellate Court realized that Prop 8 only served a negative purpose, to “reclassify (gays and lesbians) relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples”, and determined it was unconstitutional.