Every year or so there seems to be a "legal victory" for one side or the other in California's same-sex marriage battle. Just as the winner praises each victory, the loser vows to continue the fight. So, where do we currently stand?
The latest "victory" was for the opponents of same-sex marriages, and that was the May 2009 California Supreme Court decision upholding the November 2008 voter-approved Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages (Section 7.5 of Article I of the Constitution, also referred to as "Prop 8").
In a nutshell, the function of the Supreme Court is to interpret and uphold the California Constitution. Therefore, while this was the same Supreme Court that one year earlier invalidated a state statute designed to ban same-sex marriages, the Court felt it had no discretion to invalidate a Constitutional provision designed to ban same-sex marriages since the provision presumably reflected the will of the majority of the voters.
Nevertheless, despite the apparent victory for the opponents, the proponents have found hope in the fact that the Court did not invalidate roughly 18,000 same-sex marriages that were legally established prior to Prop. 8's passing and have again vowed to continue the fight.
So, what will we see next? Already, same-sex marriage proponents have registered initiatives which overturn Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution. Upon obtaining about 700,000 signatures which is sure to happen one of the initiative will be included as measures on the 2010 ballot and the issue will be brought before the voters again.
Other possible actions proponents have already initiated: (1) Senate Bill 54, introduced July, 2009, would allow California to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries (thus allowing Californians to marry in a different state and then have it recognized at home); and (2) Assembly Joint Resolution Bill 19, introduced May, 2009, urges the United States government to repeal the federal ban on same-sex marriages (thus invalidating California's ban as conflicting with federal law).
Regardless of which side prevails in the next battle, where ever and whenever it may be fought, there are strong emotions on both sides of the fence and the war is sure to be fought for years to come.