California’s Proposition 8, a controversial ban of same-sex marriage, was ruled unconstitutional Tuesday by a federal appeals court, paving the way for a likely U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8.
The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against the ballot initiative passed in 2008. In the court’s opinion, it said Proposition 8 served no legitimate purpose — it served only to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”
For many Cal Poly students, the ruling is an encouraging sign of progress, mathematics senior Tony Colicchio said. Colicchio is involved with Cal Poly’s Pride Center, the LGBT resource center on campus.
“Any time that a court is affirming those rights to marry like any other couple is a big step,” Colicchio said.
Though the ruling will probably not have an immediate impact on LGBT students at Cal Poly, Colicchio said he believes it will have a positive long-term effect. The act of affirming same-sex marriage sends the message that it’s okay to be different, Colicchio said.
“It does a lot to improve an emotional sense of well-being for LGBT people,” Colicchio said.
The 9th Circuit, which presides over much of the western United States, spent more than one year to decide to uphold a ruling by district court Judge Vaughn Walker from 2010. Opponents said Walker should have disclosed the fact he was in a same-sex relationship at the time of the decision, but an appeals court declined to invalidate the ruling.
With Walker’s ruling supported by the three-judge panel, marriage equality activists expect the fight to go to the full 9th Circuit court, or even the Supreme Court. Until then, opponents of Proposition 8 can expect the hold on marriages to remain in place, said business administration senior Moses Torreblanca, who volunteers at the Pride Center.
“This is definitely a big step in that direction, though there is probably still a stay on it,” Torreblanca said. “There’s still that out-of-reachness.”
California voters approved Proposition 8 with approximately 53 percent in favor of the act in 2008, after the California Supreme Court overturned the previous same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 22, as unconstitutional. Though Proposition 8 did not invalidate same-sex couples who were married in California, it prohibited marriages between them.
At Cal Poly, however, students such as biomedical engineering junior Alyssa Gee are opposed to the ban.
“I feel people should be able to do what they want to do,” Gee said. “Everyone should have the choice. You can’t help who you fall in love with.”
Business administration freshman Shamus Smail is also against Proposition 8 because he said he believes banning same-sex marriage infringes on people’s basic rights.
However, the government shouldn’t interfere with any individual church’s decision on who to marry, Smail said.
“The church has their own rulings on what they think a marriage should be,” Smail said.
Sean McMinn contributed to this article.