The decision clears the way for same-sex marriages in California.
Instead of ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage, justices decided the defenders of Prop. 8 didn’t have the legal right to defend it in court.
That meant the case was not properly before the nine justices, and meant they could not decide it, according to the ruling, released at about .
The ruling was a disappointment to many. Opponents of homosexual marriage hoped the court would rule that voters have the right to ban it. Proponents of same sex marriage hoped the court would rule marriage is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away.
In the months before the long-anticipated decision, legal scholars had suspected the “no-standing” decision might be the ruling, and that had been widespread debate about what it would mean.
Usually, when the Supreme Court refuses to decide an issue, it means the lower court rulings stand.
A lower court has ruled that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional. But that case involved the same parties and, some analysts said, if supporters of Prop. 8 don’t have standing before the Supreme Court, then they don’t have standing in the lower courts, either.
Others speculated the decision would apply only to the couples involved, and require all the litigation start over.
In March, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that law was unconstitutional. Statewide, more than 18,000 thousand same-sex weddings took place in the months that followed. In
The State Supreme Court decision galvanized groups opposed to gay marriage and just eight months later, in November, 2008, voters passed Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Statewide, Prop. 8 passed 52 percent to 48 percent. In
Prop. 8 was exactly the same as Prop. 22 from eight years earlier except that Prop. 8 was a constitutional amendment, not just a law. As part of the state constitution, the State Supreme Court upheld the language defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Proponents of gay marriage -- led by a lesbian who grew up in
But by then, the Republican Schwarzenegger was out of office, replaced by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown refused to defend the case against the court.
The suit was against the state, but the California Supreme Court allowed private citizens -- the backers of Prop. 8 -- to defend the anti-gay-marriage law.
The case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March. Pundits said there was no way to know how the court would rule, but the four possibilities that seemed most likely were:
--- That marriage is subject to the individual law of each state, and states have the authority to ban same-sex marriage. Such a ruling would give every state the right to ban gay marriage.
--- That marriage is a fundamental right, and no state may ban same-sex marriage.
--- In a ruling that would affect
--- That the people who challenged Prop. 8 had no legal right to speak for the state when they filed their suit. That reasoning might leave the federal appeals court opinion in force, and gay marriage would become legal again in
The case before the U.S. Supreme Court is called Hollingsworth v. Perry and some advocates say the label could someday be as prominent as Roe v. Wade.
The named parties are former California State Senator Dennis Hollingworth, a supporter of Prop. 8, and Kristin Perry, a former
Perry, 48, a 1982 graduate of