Same-sex marriage ban upheld in California

Friday, October 6, 2006

Many other countries have legalized same-sex marriage.

Justice William McGuiness, a California judge, has ruled that the ban of same-sex marriages in California is not unconstitutional since same-sex marriages have never been legal in the state.

"Courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental institution as marriage," said McGuiness.

McGuiness also said that same-sex marriages are not a "fundamental right" according to the United States Supreme Court and the California appellate courts.

"We conclude California's historical definition of marriage does not deprive individuals of a vested fundamental right. The time may come when California chooses to expand the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex unions. That change must come from democratic processes, however, not by judicial fiat," said the court's majority.

"No authority binding on us -- from California appellate courts to the United States Supreme Court -- has ever held or suggested that individuals have a fundamental constitutional right to enter the public institution of marriage with someone of the same sex," said McGuiness.

McGuiness also said that "gays are not prohibited to marry in California."

"California law does not literally prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying. However, it requires those who do to marry someone of the opposite sex," added McGuiness who also said that allowing same-sex marriages would be up to California's state legislators.

Justice J. Anthony Kline calls the ruling a "backwards step" in the fight to allow same-sex marriages.

"The state has not even claimed, let alone shown, that same-sex marriage conflicts with any legitimate interest it has in preserving and strengthening the institution of marriage. Recognizing the right of an individual to marry a person of the same sex will not diminish the validity or dignity of opposite-sex marriage, any more than recognizing the right of an individual to marry a person of a different race devalues the marriage of a person who marries someone of her own race," said Kline.

"The fact that same-sex couples have traditionally been prohibited from marrying is the reason this lawsuit [to allow same-sex marriages] was commenced," added Kline

Gay advocate groups say they will appeal the court's decision.

"The court understood that marriage has a meaning, and that unless you redefine marriage all the arguments the other side have made are meaningless," said attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, Glen Lavy.

"While we are disappointed that the Court of Appeal ruled against our families, we are confident that we will prevail and that the California dream will be available to all," said the executive director of Equality California, Geoff Kors.

Despite the ruling, California does allow civil unions along with Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine and Vermont. Massachusetts is currently the only state in the United States which has made same-sex marriages legal.