Prop 8 ruling: Same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, federal appeals court rules

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision.

In its ruling [PDF], the three-judge panel had to decide:

• whether Prop 8 supporters have a legal right to defend the ballot measure since state officials have refused to defend it.

• if Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down Prop 8, should have recused himself from the case because he was in a long-term relationship with a man.

• if Walker was correct when he ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional or whether the state had a rational or compelling reason to limit marriage to heterosexual couple.

Despite the ruling, it could be a while before same-sex couples can resume marrying in California. Prop 8 backers plan to appeal to a larger Ninth Circuit panel and then to the U.S. Supreme Court if they lose in the intermediate court. Marriages would likely stay on hold while that process plays out. Read more