SAN FRANCISCO — On Feb. 7, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released a 2-to-1 decision that declares California’s Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage, unconstitutional.
This decision marks the first time a federal appellate court has overturned legislation that defines marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman. The JACL commends the Ninth Circuit for the decision because it acknowledges the equality of LGBTQ couples.
When Prop. 8 was on the ballot in 2008, the JACL publicly opposed bans on same-sex marriage because of their similarity to laws that forbade interracial marriage. Most of the 50 states did not allow minorities to marry whites until the Supreme Court deemed such laws unconstitutional in 1967.
JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori said in a statement, “The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court decision … reaffirms the JACL position that all persons should be afforded constitutional equal protection. The JACL is pleased that the court decision supports a long-standing position that our organization has held. The Constitution dictates that there should be equity and fairness in all aspects of the law, and this decision indicates that a person’s status has no bearing on how they are treated by the law.”
While this is a victory for the LGBTQ community and its allies, this might not be the final decision on Prop. 8. If its supporters choose to appeal the decision, it could be re-heard by a panel of 11 judges or go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the decision is not appealed, same-sex couples can be married in 21 days thereafter.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) said in a statement, “Today marks a landmark moment in the fight for equality and justice with the United States Ninth Circuit Court’s finding that the California Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional under the equal protection and due process clauses in our federal Constitution. We can no longer piecemeal equality on a state-by-state basis or otherwise limit the courageous march to justice. Love, commitment and dedication have no boundaries and today’s ruling is a crucial step towards a more perfect union.
“In my decade in Congress and as the current vice chair of the LGBT Caucus, I have worked with the gay community and its allies on critical issues — visitation rights, employment non-discrimination, family reunification under immigration law, hate crimes and education. Discrimination in any realm is inequality; it is intolerable.
“Now more than never, it is imperative to remind each other, and our elected officials, that until we all have equal rights — be it the right to marry or earn equal wages — liberty and justice has not yet been granted.”