Same-sex couples to be allowed to marry immediately in California
The four plaintiffs who sought to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban in the supreme court won a decisive step towards marriage equality after Proposition 8 was judged on Friday as violating the civil rights of gay Californians.
The lifting of the ban marks a return to same-sex couples being granted a marriage licence for the first time in four and a half years. The supreme court decision was followed by an order from the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco to immediately overturn Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
The plaintiffs who brought the challenge to Proposition 8 were the first to be married close to a statue of gay rights activist Harvey Milk at San Francisco city hall, with a further 60 ceremonies taking place shortly after.
The plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkley vowed to take each other as “lawfully wedded wife” in San Francisco as the other plaintiffs Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo of Burbank were married shortly after in Los Angeles
The ruling means that 13 US states and the District of Columbia recognise same-sex marriage as legal.
The decision lets stand a trial judge’s previous declaration from a lower court that the ban violates the civil rights of gay Californians.
Some groups that supported Proposition 8 have described the move as outrageous as a supreme court ruling should usually be given around 25 days before it is put into effect.
Andy Pugno, the legal counsel for Projectmarriage.com and a coalition of religious conservative groups that support the ban, stated: “The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonourable fashion, they should be ashamed.”
The same-sex ban came into effect in 2008 as a simultaneous but unconnected referendum on the eve of Obama’s election. The outcome of the referendum proved to be an immediate restriction on the civil liberties of many Californians, who were hoping for a new era of change and liberty after religious conservatism had found a strong voice during the G.W Bush administration.
So far there has been such a large volume of new marriage applications that clerks extended their opening hours by a few hours on Friday.