Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Supreme Court Legalizes Marriage For Same-Sex Couples

A divided California Supreme Court today ruled that a state law limiting the legal recognition of "marriage" to "one man and one woman" violated the right of same-sex couples to equal protection under California's state constitution. Applying a strict scrutiny analysis, the Court's 4-3 majority ruled that, even though the state already had enacted a domestic partner benefits law which provided same- sex couples the material benefits of a marriage, the state law still effectively deprived same-sex couples of their fundamental right to marry under the California constitution.

Indiana observers should note a substantial difference in how California interprets its equal protection clause versus how Indiana courts interpret our constitution's equal protection requirement. Indiana courts do not apply a strict scrutiny standard in deciding equal protection cases as California does. Rather, Indiana courts use a rational basis standard, which is highly deferential to state legislative enactments. Using this standard, Indiana's Court of Appeals in Morrison v. Sadler upheld Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, which limits marriage to "one man and one woman." Very rarely have Indiana courts overturned an Indiana statute as violating equal protection using the rational basis test. Further, Morrison v. Sadler found that there was no fundamental right to marry under Indiana's constitution.


Don Sherfick said...

Quite true, Gary, concerning the quite significant difference in the way the Indiana Supreme Court deals with "equal protection" analysis. But I seriously doubt that this will quell the right-wing's word machine that will claim that all signs of civilization will disappear in Indiana because SJR7 was defeated earlier this year and will almost certainly resurrect it or some similar un-needed monstrosity next year in the General Assembly. Fortunately, your blog and others have increasingly helped shine the light of legal day on what has too often passed as "indisputable legal scholarship" from the other side of this issue. An enlightened public, media, and legislature needs to remain vigilent.

Rhonda Redman said...

Micah is already freaking out and passing out bad info. Got the email alerting me to the supposed danger a little while ago.

MissouriDemocrat said...

This issue always confounds me as a gay man. Here we have conservatives that cry out for less government, less government intrusion into peoples lives that advocate intruding into peoples personal moral lives. People claiming to love Jesus that blame Katrina on rampant homosexuality in New Orleans or 9/11 on America's sin. They seem so truly mentally ill to me. Flabbergasted is not a good enough word for my feelings toward them.

artfuggins said...

MissouriDemocrat, I get it. They hate gay people...plain and is not a conservative or liberal issue. They just plain hate gay people. God told them.

Rico43 said...

No, Art(aka Wilson), some just hate when the gay cummunity demands special consideration, and seeks it via the courts. The people of California already voted on the issue. Here, once again, is an example of jurists writing the law--Constitution be damned.
The unintended, and somewhat humorous, consequence will be companies in California no longer offering coverage for partners of civil unions. The gay community, of course, will cry foul, which demonstrates that they do, indeed, want special rights.

Hi Gary,

Do you have any idea why every time I log on to this blog I must re-set my password?

Unknown said...

Rico, I'm sympathetic with the deference to the legislature argument. Here though I'm sympathetic to the equal protection argument. Gay people are being treated differently under the law as it comes to marriage. They have every right to get married and be as miserable as heterosexuals.

There's a legislative solution...California can pass a constitutional amendment to make marriage only between a man and a woman. The question is whether they can do it through simple legislation, which the court says they can't.

legaldiva said...


They don't want special rights. Rather, they want the ability to express their love and committment through marriage like others are able to do so. Denying them the ability to marry essentially legislates morality. Is there any other reason why we deny same-sex couples the right to marry other than society thinks it's just not right? We must stop legislating out of fear. If they want to marry, let them. How does it really harm society?

Unknown said...

I am a right conservative. I ama gainst any ban that limits the freedoms of others. In short, I am pro gay marriage. I think gay people should be as miserable as us straight married people. =)

Art/Wilson, please don't label all conservatives the same.