BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied Proposition 8 supporters an en banc rehearing (that is, a hearing before all the court's judges rather than just a panel selected from them) of a February ruling that California's ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory, Reuters reports.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit court made the February ruling, in which it rejected the argument that Prop 8 advanced "responsible procreation," Reuters noted.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), whose lawsuit led to
the case, says today's decision is a "monumental turning point in our
case for equality." The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two couples — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo — who want to get married.
In a press conference following the decision, one of the couples' attorneys, Theodore Olson, called the ruling a "complete victory toward eliminating this last vestige of state-sponsored discrimination and second-class citizenship."
Co-counsel David Boies added, "Marriage is a fundamental right, and the unjustifiable denial of that right seriously harms gay and lesbian couples and their families."
The June 5 ruling paves the way for Prop 8 supporters to take their fight to the US Supreme Court. "We will promptly file our appeal to the nation's highest court and look foward to a positive outcome on behalf of the millions of Californians who believe in traditional marriage," said Andrew Pugno, an attorney for anti-gay-marriage supporters.
The Ninth Circuit's decision is on hold for 90 days to allow for such an appeal.
Today's ruling comes on the heels of a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Boston that the Defense of Marriage Act's (DOMA) denial of federal benefits to married gay couples is unconstitutional. That ruling won't be enforced, either, until the Supreme Court rules on the matter.