US District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected a petition Wednesday that sought the dismissal of a pending constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that overturned the right of same-sex marriage in the state. Representatives of the Proposition 8 campaign argued that the measure should stand on the basis of historical precedent of marriage laws and inability of same-sex couples to procreate, according to the LA Times.
Judge Walker scheduled a January 2010 trial date in August for the lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The suit was filed in May by two prominent attorneys known for arguing against one another over the 2000 presidential election in Bush v. Gore and is on the behalf of two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses after the passage of Proposition 8.
Just this week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed a bill recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples legally wed in California or other states before passage of Proposition 8. The unions of same-sex couples legally wed in other states after Proposition 8, however, will not be recognized as “marriage” but will entitle the couple to all the rights and protections of spouses under California law, according to an Equality California press release. Schwarzenegger explained that the measure “honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states,” reports the Sacramento Bee.
The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 in a 6 to 1 ruling in May 2009. The proposition, which passed 52 percent to 48 percent, overturned a May 2008 ruling of the state Supreme Court that resulted in, among other provisions, the legalization of same sex marriage in the state. The Court’s 2009 opinion (see PDF) preserved the marriages of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California during the period same-sex marriage was legal.
Same sex marriage is currently legal in six states: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Legislation to legalize same sex marriage remains under consideration in New York.