California Court upholds Prop. 8 but rules existing same sex marriages stand.

Just reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. This is exactly the decision that everyone expected them to make, but it’s still a little disappointing.

UPDATE: But on the bright side, it’s wonderful that the same-sex marriages that have already happened in California have not been dissolved or downgraded. Wonderful for the couples, and — I think — wonderful in terms of helping to “normalize” the idea of marriage equality, which will help in a future ballot fight to overturn prop 8.


The Courage Campaign has about 700,000 names on it’s petition, and would like to reach a million. Go here to put your name on the list, if you like.

UPDATE 3: A pdf copy of the decision has been posted on Pam’s House Blend, here.

UPDATE 4: At The Faculty Lounge, Calvin Massey argues that this decision “represents a victory for gay rights advocates”: (via)

The Court also ruled that the measure was not retroactive, so the 18000 or so same-sex unions that occurred between June and November of 2008 will still be called marriages. This represents a victory for gay rights advocates, though it will not likely be so portrayed or acknowledged. After the dust has settled same-sex unions will receive absolutely the same legal status and protection as marriages, and state discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will continue to be presumed to be invalid and subject to the most stringent test for justification of such discrimination. Protests about the decision are misguided; it has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether it is right or wrong to withhold the label of “marriage” from same-sex couples, but is a faithful application of a large body of California constitutional law finding such “rifle-shot” changes to the state constitution to be amendments rather than revisions.

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6 Responses to California Court upholds Prop. 8 but rules existing same sex marriages stand.

  1. 1
    Ampersand says:

    A guy named Steve Cornell just cut-and-pasted half of this blog post into comments. Naturally, I didn’t approve it.

    Steve, if you want to engage in actual dialog, that’s one thing (although I think you’ll find that many people here have little patience for your views); but it shows extremely poor etiquette to just cut and paste from something you wrote six months ago. That’s not contributing to discussion; it’s faking discussion.

  2. 2
    MisterMephisto says:

    It’s always nice to know that repetitive regurgitation is the opposition’s primary response of choice.

    It gives us several months to come up with better and better responses to them, while they just keep saying the exact same things.

    I almost know their arguments better than I know my own.

  3. 3
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Okay, so I read the decision. Almost all of it even. And what I got from it is this —

    A same-sex couple in California has a right to do something that is just like marriage, only it isn’t called marriage. Did I get that one right? Because there is a lot of language in the decision that reads like “They have the right to XYZ, they just don’t have the right to call it ‘Marriage'”.

  4. 4
    PG says:


    There is a lot talk about that, but my understanding is that the crux of the decision is whether being able to call your set of rights and obligations in a state-recognized relationship a “marriage” instead of a “domestic partnership” constitutes so significant a change to the state constitution that it is actually a revision, not a mere amendment, and thus requires a more rigorous process than the direct referendum.

    I loathe California’s direct referendum for constitutional amendment (you can amend the constitution with the same bare majority that you could pass a statute? no wonder their constitution is so f*cked up and has been regularly re-sorted every 30 years or so — they’re overdue for their next pruning and there’s a movement for a new constitutional convention there), but I don’t feel certain that the CA Supreme Court got this one wrong.

  5. 5
    FurryCatHerder says:


    I understand that “revision versus amendment” was the basis for the case. I’m just curious about the implications of the case. Because I’m starting to think that the word “marriage” is the cause of so much of the difficulties in getting these laws passed.

    I did go to Vermont many years ago for a Civil Union, and Vermont is now upgrading from “Civil Unions” to “Marriages”. I just have to wonder if leaving the word “Marriage” alone for the time being is a workable strategy for eventually getting people to lose their opposition to calling it “Marriage” while still granting the same set of rights and obligations.

  6. 6
    PG says:

    So long as having the civil union is popularly acceptable enough that the court decision requiring it does not arouse a referendum to ban Ssm, then yes, I think domestic partnerships and civil unions for about a decade will get people to accept Ssm. But as we saw in Cali if domestic partnerships are seen as bad, then you end up with ssm bans and an organized opposition invested in scare mongering about ssm.