Prop 8 Is Dead: Gay Marriage Legal in California (but Not Nationwide)

Supreme Court avoids sweeping decision on pivotal case
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2013 9:53 AM CDT
Court Kills Prop 8, But Doesn't Legalize Gay Marriage
This Nov. 2, 2008 file photo shows supporters of Proposition 8, the state’s measure that banned same sex marriages, in front of city hall during a Yes on Prop. 8 rally in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

After issuing a sweeping decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the court effectively punted on its other major same-sex marriage case on the validity of Proposition 8. In another 5-4 decision, the court said that the defenders of Prop 8 didn't have the standing to step in and fight for the law, given that California officials refused to. "We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to," John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. "We decline to do so for the first time here."

Effectively, the court declined to rule on Prop 8, meaning that a lower court ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional will stand. That means same-sex marriage will be legal in California, but not for the country as a whole—which is what the court would have had to decide if it had ruled. The majority on this one was a mixed-ideology one, with John Roberts joining Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan. Anthony Kennedy's dissenting opinion argued that the ruling "disrespects and disparages" the political process in California. (Read more Proposition 8 stories.)

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