CVHS senior Austin Bruckner stood outside San Francisco’s Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Feb. 7, holding a pro-gay rights sign and anxiously awaiting the results of the Proposition 8 hearing that was going on inside. The decision was supposed to be made at 10 a.m. but, as the results would not be announced publicly, Bruckner’s fellow protesters were refreshing their laptops and smartphones in eager anticipation of the decision’s arrival on the Internet.
“We were doing a chant when this lady on her laptop randomly said ‘It’s unconstitutional,’” explained Bruckner. “When we realized that the woman was reading the decision that had been made, we all started crying and hugging each other.”
The outburst of emotion described by Bruckner was a response to the momentous decision made that morning by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
The court’s decision, which goes against the statewide majority that ruled in accordance with Proposition 8 when it was on the ballot in 2008, makes no immediate change in marital status for homosexuals in California. It does, however, further the investigation of Proposition 8 to a federal level. In the coming months, the issue may land in the Supreme Court and a final ruling could be made.
Many Californians are very excited about the court’s decision.
“I think it’s wonderful because it is the first time a Federal Appeals Court has upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry,” said history teacher Roger Kim. Although the decision is a positive one, Kim said, “not knowing what will happen at the Supreme Court level is a little nerve-racking.”
While the decision does have many supporters, its opponents are at the ready with arguments to serve as its invalidation. To senior Trinity Bustria, agreeing or disagreeing with the court’s decision is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with Proposition 8 itself, but rather with the court’s use of the 14th Amendment as constitutional evidence.
Bustria explained that “one of the faulty grounds for Proposition 8’s overturn was the appeal to the 14th Amendment, an amendment that was illegally ratified after the Civil War.” According to Bustria, “The bigger issue involved in this whole debacle is the 14th Amendment; its legality should be examined by the Supreme Court and not the current question around Proposition 8.”
Regardless of the opinions of its opponents, the decision has made it apparent that the argument over Proposition 8 is not over. Gay rights activists will not stop until they achieve their goal: true marriage equality. And while the decision does not provide any immediate change, it is, as Bruckner put it, “a step in the right direction.”