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Obama deems Proposition 8 unconstitutional

By Mike Harkins
On March 13, 2013


Proposition 8, passed in California back in 2008, is back in the news again. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear arguments relating to it, potentially ending a long saga that began nearly three years ago. 

Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition drawn up that, upon its passage, would lead to banning same-sex marriages in the state. Prior to its passage, same-sex couples were allowed to marry, albeit for a short period of time. The idea created a firestorm between opponents and proponents of the bill, led to legal challenges, and ultimately, the proposition, which was supported by big money donors like the LDS Church, was passed by a 52-47 percent margin. 

Now, after several legal challenges, the proposition has made its way from the ballot box, and the bill and it's controversy navigated through various appellate channels.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco held in a 2-1 ruling that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, and its ruling was further challenged, leading us to where we are now: the case being heard by the US Supreme Court. 

Recently the Obama Administration has jumped into the fray. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr.  submitted a writ on the behalf of the administration, urging the Supreme Court to hold Prop. 8 as unconstitutional, as it is the administration's position that it violates the US Constitution's Equal Protection clause. 

This will finally bring some clarity to a situation that has been murky in recent years. As other states such as Washington, New York, and Maine have moved to legalize same-sex marriage, California has found itself as an outlier, banning the practice. That isn't to say that same-sex partnerships are banned in this state. Even with Prop. 8 in place, same-sex couples can pursue domestic unions, which hold much of the same benefits as marriage. 

The reaction to all of this is mixed. Proponents of the law see this as judicial overstepping, while opponents see it as an unwieldy law that needs to be struck down for progress to occur. There also seems to be a general apathy by much of the public toward it as well. 

"I'm hoping the Supreme Court will do what's right and strike this law down," said Avril Eagan, student. "Things need to be fair for everyone, and this law needs to go away for that to occur."

Many shared Eagan's sentiment, even if phrased differently.

"I really don't see the problem [with same-sex marriages]" said Sebastopol resident Antonio Silva. "They [same-sex couples] deserve to be just as miserable as everyone else."

Still, others voiced their opinions to the contrary.

"What's the point of voting for anything if it's just going to be struck down when its doesn't tow the special interest line?" said student Tony McGehee.

"It should be a state's rights issue," argued student Taryn Brewer. "I'm personally not opposed, but personally, I don't see it as a national issue. The states should decide these policies."

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