In 2000 Prop 22 passed by 62%, which excluded marriages of same sex couples from being recognized legally in CA. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court (CSC) voted, 4 to 3, to overturn Prop 22, thereby legalizing marriages of same sex couples. Meanwhile, the Yes of Prop 8 campaign was able to get an initiative on the November ballot which was passed with a 52% majority of California voters. It was presented as an amendment to the state Constitution.
As of November 5th, marriages of same sex couples are no longer legal in California. However, the CSC has agreed to hear arguments based on a lawsuit filed by 3 parties which seeks to overturn Prop 8. One argument is that Prop 8 is a revision and not an amendment and therefore appeared on the ballot illegally. A revision is required to be passed by 2/3 of the state legislature before being placed on the ballot for a popular vote. I believe it then requires a 2/3 vote by the people to actually be put on the Constitution.
Another lawsuit contends that Prop 8 discriminates religiously, as clergy who support and conduct marriages of same sex couples are now not allowed to do so. It is based upon the freedom of/from religion. That is a very interesting aspect but not sure how the CSC will view it. I'm not sure about the 3rd lawsuit, but there have been numerous Amicus (friend of the court) briefs filed on behalf of both the suits looking to overturn Prop 8 and those in support of upholding it.
The hearings I believe begin on March 5th, and a ruling is required within 90 days of the final hearing. The Yes on 8 people recently brought in attorney Kenneth Starr who has added a lawsuit that seeks to nullify the approximately 18,000 marriages performed between June 16th & Nov. 4th. That's about it so far.
It's a rollercoaster ride. Tuesday we had a lobby day where citizens were brought in to speak before Senators and Assembly Members and plead for them to support the senate and assembly resolutions which if passed would put each branch on record as supporting the overturning of Prop 8. Of course, most of the Republicans are staunchly opposed while the vast majority (save for one or two) or supporters. Some of both parties are undecided. There are so many more who have filed briefs supporting Prop 8 being overturned, but Yes on 8 has threatened a recall of any justice who votes to do that, and some are up for reelection in 2010.
It's a mess here right now. Many are hopeful, most are cautiously optimistic and some are resigned to lose this one. Some of the Yes on 8 people have stated if the CSC upholds Prop 8, they will then bring forth initiatives to prevent same sex couples from adopting, and a few have threatened to work to repeal domestic partnership laws. It's a very hopeful and exciting time for GLBT and allies, but also very scary. My own marriage is in jeopardy, and my 'family' who chose not to marry before Nov. 4th cannot now do that.
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
Coretta Scott King