Prop. 8 backers ask for full review by appeals court

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Supporters of California’s ban on gay marriage asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a Feb. 7 ruling against Proposition 8. The backers of the ban argued that California voters did not show disapproval of gay people, but wanted to keep marriage between one man and one woman.

ProtectMarriage argued, “That the traditional definition of marriage confers a symbolic benefit on committed opposite-sex couples does not ‘dishonor’ gays and lesbians as a class or express official disapproval of them and their relationships.”

The group sponsored the 2008 ballot measure that reinstated a marriage ban.

“It is simply not true that when the government provides special recognition to one class of individuals, it demeans others.”

ProtectMarriage asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a full reconsideration by a panel that would include Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and 10 other judges chosen randomly. This review, which is granted in a small amount of cases, requires the support of a majority of the court’s 24 judges. Most of the judges were appointed by Democratic presidents.

ProtectMarriage contended that the panel’s 2-1 ruling upholding the strike down of Prop. 8 misinterpreted a U.S. Supreme Court precedent and wrongly said it stigmatized gays and lesbians.

“It is simply not stigmatic for the law to treat different things differently … or to call different things by different names,” the group argued.

It is still unclear as to whether or not the full court will accept the appeal and the decision delays the perceived inevitable eventuality of the case being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. ProtectMarriage has nothing to lose and even if the court agrees to hear the case, the ruling could still be appealed to the Supreme Court. While all the bureaucratic debate and votes occur, the stay on gay marriage will remain, which means gays and lesbians still will not be allowed to be married in California. The full court is expected to announce whether or not it will hear the decision in the coming weeks.

The panel ruling followed a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which said rights cannot be taken away from a minority group without a legitimate reason. Gay-rights groups have pledged to continue fighting the legal battle to repeal the discriminatory ballot measure.

“We won in Federal District Court; Prop. 8 was found unconstitutional. We won again in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Prop. 8 was deemed to ‘serve no purpose…other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.’ No matter what path this case takes, we will defend our victory,” said Chad Griffin, board president for the American Foundation of Equal Rights. “A rehearing of our case is completely unnecessary. Because gay and lesbian couples like our plaintiffs have the right to get married, which both the Federal District Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vindicated, AFER opposes a rehearing by the 9th Circuit and will seek to bring that fundamental right to reality at the earliest possible time for the tens of thousands of Californians who are being denied basic justice, due process and equality.”

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