U.S. high court inching closer to decision on whether to hear Prop. 8 case

Getty Images File PhotoMajor impact: The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to announce whether it will rule on Proposition 8

The U.S. Supreme Court could make a decision as soon as December on whether it will consider the legality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

On Nov. 20, justices will consider whether or not to hear the case, and that decision could go public as soon as Nov. 26. If the high court does not consider the case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued in February will be upheld. That judgment deemed California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

It’s a decision Stuart Gaffney of the nonprofit Marriage Equality USA is ready for.

“It’s very exciting news,” Gaffney said. “We’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for this moment. For couples waiting to get married since passage of Prop. 8, this brings it that much closer. We hope they’ll finally be able to say, ‘I do.’”

If the court decides not to hear the case, marriages could resume in California by December, Gaffney said. But if the court does take the case, the timeline for a decision is unknown.

Prop. 8, which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and woman, was passed by voters in 2008. Then in 2009, two California couples filed a lawsuit saying it was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

According to the documents petitioning the Supreme Court to consider the case, Prop. 8 supporters say allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would be a “death sentence” to traditional marriage.

“Californians of all races, creeds, and walks of life have opted to preserve the traditional definition of marriage not because they seek to dishonor gays and lesbians as a class, but because they believe that the traditional definition of marriage continues to meaningfully serve society’s legitimate interests, and they cannot yet know how those interests will be affected by fundamentally redefining marriage,” the document states.

Representatives for supporters such as ProtectMarriage.org could not immediately be reached for comment.

Many of the supporter’s representatives are located in Washington, D.C., where most businesses and government agencies were closed Monday due to superstorm Sandy.

In addition to Prop. 8, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear several cases related to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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