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The battle over the constitutionality of Proposition 8 is now facing a new hurdle.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California State Supreme Court for guidance on the legal standing of Imperial County’s challenge to U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s Aug. 4 ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.
The county challenged Walker’s ruling after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Attorney General Jerry Brown did not appeal the decision.
This will be the third time the state supreme court will consider Proposition 8, and it could be the last time. The court’s first ruling in May 2008 stated that same-sex couples had the same right to marry under the state’s constitution. But a second ruling in 2009 said that voters had a right to pass the proposition, banning same-sex marriage.
The court of appeals will now ask the state supreme court if the county has a legitimate legal argument in the matter since their elected officials did not challenge Walker’s ruling. If the county is found by the court to lack legal standing in the appeal, Walker’s decision would take effect with no further review from the appellate court. But if the court rules Imperial County has a valid argument, the appeals court would have to rule on the constitutional issues raised by Walker’s decision. That ruling would likely be followed by more appeals and more years of litigation in the courts.
West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman is confident this decision will mean the end of Prop 8.
“They’ve been told by various courts that they cannot challenge the ruling,” Heilman said. “I think this issue will be resolved soon.”
Jim Key, communications director for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, voiced his frustration that Prop. 8 was still an issue, but was also confident it would be eliminated eventually.
“Every day we are denied the freedom to marry is another day we are denied justice,” Key said. “I’d be thrilled to win on the standing issue but even if we don’t, I’m optimistic we will win on the merits.”
There is no current timetable on when the California Supreme Court will issue a ruling on the matter. Whatever they decide, West Hollywood Councilmember Jeffrey Prang is preparing for the fight over Prop 8 to continue to drag on.
“I expect anything and everything,” Prang said. “It is going to be a long [battle] and proponents of Prop. 8 will throw down every road block to keep it alive.”
Heilman acknowledged the fight for equality has been long, but he is still optimistic this fight is nearing its end.
“This has been a long struggle,” Heilman said. “For twenty-five years we’ve been trying for equality for the LGBT community. It’s looking like that day is getting closer.”
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