This morning the California state supreme court issued its decision on the same-sex marriage case, and the majority held that laws excluding gay and lesbian couples from the right to marry are unconstitutional. The decision paves the way for California to become the second state in which gay and lesbian residents can marry.
The case involved a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn a voter-approved law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
''This is a landmark and historic day," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "We are grateful that the court upheld the most precious and cherished values of fairness, opportunity, and, most basically, the fundamental right to marry the person you love.''
California already offers domestic partnerships that offer virtually the same state-level legal rights and responsibilities as married spouses, including the right to divorce and to sue for child support.
A coalition of religious and social conservative groups is attempting to put a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine California's current laws banning gay marriage in the state constitution. It's unclear what impact today's decision will have on that initiative. The secretary of state is expected to rule by the end of June whether the sponsors gathered enough signatures to qualify the marriage amendment, similar to ones enacted in 26 other states.
The cases before the California court were brought by the city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples, Equality California, and another gay rights group in March 2004 after the court halted San Francisco's month-long same-sex wedding march that took place at Mayor Gavin Newsom's direction. (AP, with additional reporting by The Advocate)
-------- The Obama campaign released the following statement today on the decision of the California Supreme Court:
"Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage."
On the issue of constitutional amendments, Senator Obama has been on record for some time: He opposes all divisive and discriminatory constitutional amendments, state or federal. That includes the proposed amendments in California and Florida.