Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I've Been Waiting 18 Months for This

After 18 months of waiting on pins and needles, it's about damned time.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal.

The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.

“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.

The ruling upheld a decision by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who struck down the ballot measure in 2010 after holding an unprecedented trial on the nature of sexual orientation and the history of marriage.

Thank you, 9th Circuit, for recognizing our human dignity and our constitutional rights. Loving couples should not be denied fundamental civil rights just because of someone else's religious beliefs. It's frustrating that it's taking so long for this case to progress, but at least it is moving forward, and at least we're winning.

Now the case is definitely on its way to The Supreme Court... It's only a matter of when and how. The 9th may still opt to hear the case "en banc", meaning in front of all the judges on that appeals bench. If this happens, expect the action to stay in San Francisco for several more months. However if it doesn't decide to do this, and if Prop 8 proponents decide to appeal directly to The Supreme Court, then we may see them rule on this case as soon as Spring 2013, just a little over a year from now. That may still seem like a long time for us lay folk, but that's actually pretty speedy in the legal world.

Whenever I see another update on this case, I'm reminded of that famous saying from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The arc of history may indeed be long, but in the end it always bends toward justice and equality.

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