SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Supreme Court of California today ruled 4-3 in favor of legalizing marriage for same-sex couples and knocked down the state’s ban on gay marriage. The court also ruled that domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for the extension of full marriage rights.
The case was brought by the City of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples and Equality California.
“I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after the publication of the decision. “Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.”
“This is a historic day for the state of California, and a long-awaited day for the plaintiffs in this case and their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The California Supreme Court has made clear that same-sex couples in committed relationships and their families deserve the same level of respect afforded to opposite-sex couples. The court did its job by ensuring that the state constitution provides the same rights and protections for everyone. This is a decision that strengthens California families.”
From the opinion, written by Chief Justice Ron George:
Accordingly, we conclude that the right to marry, as embodied in article I, sections 1 and 7 of the California Constitution, guarantees same-sex couples the same substantive constitutional rights as opposite sex couples to choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.
In light of all of these circumstances, we conclude that retention of the traditional definition of marriage does not constitute a state interest sufficiently compelling, under the strict scrutiny equal protection standard, to justify withholding that status from same-sex couples. Accordingly, insofar as the provisions of sections 300 and 308.5 draw a distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples and exclude the latter from access to the designation of marriage, we conclude these statutes are unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandate directing the appropriate state officials to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling in this case so as to ensure that county clerks and other local officials throughout the state, in performing their duty to enforce the marriage statutes in their jurisdictions, apply those provisions in a manner consistent with the decision of this court. Further, as the prevailing parties, plaintiffs are entitled to their costs.
Full Opinion: S147999 In re Marriage Cases 5/15/08 SC