The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 today to uphold Proposition 8, the deeply controversial measure passed by voters in November banning same-sex marriage. In the same ruling, the court also declared that California will continue to legally recognize the marriages of the approximately 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed before the passage of Prop. 8.
Today's ruling centered on the the question of whether Prop. 8 amounted to a "revision" of California's constitution, as gay activists argued. A revision can only be passed by two-thirds of the state legislature, not a majority vote on a ballot measure.
The same court had ruled in May to allow same-sex marriage, but this time many of the justices who had previously voted in favor of same-sex marriage appeared reluctant to overturn a voter-passed proposition.
In the majority decision, Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote that not only did Prop. 8 not constitute a revision, but that voters had clearly expressed their desire to limit the availability of marriage to heterosexual couples.
He further commented that civil unions still allowed gay Californians 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.”
Reaction to the ruling was immediate, with same-sex supporters blocking traffic by joining hands outside of San Francisco City Hall in protest. Further demonstrations of protest and support for the ruling are planned throughout California and the nation later today.