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History in the high court

Five things to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage in Calif.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday reopened the door to gay marriage in California.

Following are five things to know about how the ruling affects same-sex couples in the state:

Noah Berger, AP
Rainbow flags fly in front of San Francisco City Hall, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.

The Ruling

The court’s 5-to-4 majority ruled the sponsors of California’s voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, did not have legal authority to defend the measure once state officials refused to do so. In so doing, the justices let stand a lower court decision that invalidated Proposition 8 as a violation of the civil rights of gay Californians.

Next Steps

Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris already have informed California’s 58 county clerks that they must issue marriage licenses to gay couples as soon as certain procedural steps are taken by the courts. For example, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals must rescind its 2009 order requiring the state to continue enforcing Proposition 8 while the case remained on appeal.

Whither the Weddings

The 9th Circuit said it would not clear the way for weddings for at least 25 days, which is how long Proposition 8 sponsors have to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on their standing to defend the initiative. It’s unlikely the high court would grant such a rehearing.

Further complicating matters is that lawyers for the ban’s backers insist the high court’s decision only legalized marriages for the two couples who sued to overturn Proposition 8. They could go back to court to argue that point and potentially further delay statewide gay marriage.

Newlyweds No More

During the five-month window in 2008 between the time gay marriage was legalized in California and Proposition 8 passed, an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married, according to the Williams Institute, a UCLA-based think tank. The California Supreme Court upheld the validity of those marriages in 2009, and nothing in Wednesday’s decision changes that.

Interstate Transfers

Assuming the lower court decision applies to more than two couples , same-sex couples who were legally married in another state would have their marriages recognized if they move to California. Proposition 8 prevented the state from either sanctioning same-sex marriages or recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

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7 more reader comments:

  1. Amen!

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:49pm
  2. Thank you for the explanation.(Although, I live in Colorado, where marriage is one man & one woman. I am straight, married for 35 years, but I will do everything I can to help overturn this amendment. We have civil unions, but that’s not even like common-law, which is accepted in this state. My husband & I only got “married” about 5 years ago. As we got older, we realized we need to protect all of our legal rights. We also renewed the plates to our truck at the same time – county clerk’s satellite office.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:59pm
  3. When we got the marriage license ($10), there were only check marks for single, divorced & widowed.Ken insisted to the clerk for almost 10 minutes that we were none of the above, we were common-law. She eventually wrote it in by hand.Happy memory.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 4:04pm
  4. Thanks for the updates and summaries. It helps supporters, like me, to better inform others not as familiar with the issues.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 4:08pm
  5. Great 2 Hear

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 4:12pm
  6. I know the most important of all five- Love! Compassion,a beating heart,and open mind!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 8:36am
  7. So if the LCR & other gay Republicans had their wish in 2008 & John McCain were president, the Supreme Court would’ve most likely decided to uphold DOMA & perhaps ruled for prop 8 to be upheld 7-2 with a more conservative court. Only bigots would be dancing in the streets today. Think about that next time there’s a presidential election.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 9:38am