Supporters of California's gay marriage ban, blocked by two federal courts, filed a petition to the Supreme Court on Tuesday urging the justices to take up the case.
In their request for the Court to uphold the ban, the Proposition 8 backers questioned "[w]hether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman."
California voters passed Proposition 8 by ballot initiative in 2008, effectively banning same-sex marriages, which had earlier been approved by the state legislature. The measure fared more poorly in the ensuing legal battle, however, as it was first ruled unconstitutional in 2010, then blocked again earlier this year in a subsequent appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court.
"It will not do to say that Proposition 8 was intended only to disapprove of same-sex marriage, rather than to pass judgment on same-sex couples as people," the latter decision read, determining that the marriage restriction violated the 14th Amendment by discriminating against gays and lesbians. "[T]he elimination of the right to use the official designation of 'marriage' for the relationships of committed same-sex couples ... send[s] a message that gays and lesbians are of lesser worth as a class -- that they enjoy lesser societal status."
The effort to maintain Proposition 8 suffered something of a PR hiccup in the wake of this ruling, when a key supporter publicly changed his view, writing in a New York Times editorial "that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over."
SCOTUSblog writes that the path looks largely cleared for the Supreme Court to take up a case on gay marriage -- either this one or another concerning the Defense of Marriage Act -- sometime this year:
Presumably, the cases will be ready for the Court to consider later this summer or early in the new Term that starts October 1. While there is no guarantee that any of the cases will be granted, it seems highly likely that at least some of them will be. The Court has never decided, after full review, a case on gay marriage. It also has never specified the constitutional test to be applied to laws that are claimed to discriminate on the basis of sexual identity.