California's Prop. 8 Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional, Supreme Court Showdown Next

Prop 8 February 7 2012 Male Couple Kiss - H 2012
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Prop 8 February 7 2012 Male Couple Kiss - H 2012

A federal appeals court has overturned California's ban on gay marriage, setting up a likely showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court over the issue of whether marriage is defined as between a man and a woman.

The 2-1 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure passed by Californians, violated the U.S. Constitution. Proponents of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal, meaning the case could reach the high court as early as next year.

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“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court ruled.

The ruling upheld a decision by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who struck down the ballot measure in 2010 after holding an unprecedented trial on the nature of sexual orientation and the history of marriage.