Gay marriage activists won a clear victory in California today as the California Supreme Court “struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday in a broadly worded decision that would invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental “right to marry” that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June.
The majority opinion, by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, declared that any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation will from this point on be constitutionally suspect in California in the same way as laws that discriminate by race or gender, making the state’s high court the first in the nation to adopt such a stringent standard.
The decision was a bold surprise from a moderately conservative, Republican-dominated court that legal scholars have long dubbed “cautious,” and experts said it was likely to influence other courts around the country.
Opponents of the decision have an “initiative already heading toward the November ballot” that would “amend the state Constitution to prohibit same-sex unions.”
The campaign over that measure began within minutes of the decision. The state’s Catholic bishops and other opponents of same-sex marriage denounced the court’s ruling. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who previously has vetoed two bills in favor of gay marriage, issued a statement saying he “respects” the decision and “will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn” it.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “hailed the California Supreme Court decision today, saying he would officiate over as many same-sex weddings as possible.”
“It’s been a long journey to reach this historic day,” he said in the courtyard of L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center. “This is about people and the right for people to love who they want.”
Villaraigosa pledged his full support in campaigning against an attempt to amend the state constitution.
“I will stand with you,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to keep this decision the law of the land.”
A live vote on the L.A. Times on the decision had these results:
Did the California Supreme Court make the correct decision today?
Yes 80.6 %
No 19.4 %
22203 total responses
Let’s hope California voters defeat the initiative come November.
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