US Supreme Court rules ‘no standing’ on Proposition 8, reinstating equal marriage in California

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The US Supreme Court has effectively struck down Proposition 8, the US State of California’s ban on same-sex marriages, by voting not to take up the case.

The Supreme Court Justices voted 5-4 to not take up the case of Proposition 8, or Hollingsworth v Perry, saying that petitioners did not have standing to appeal against the district court order, which had already deemed that it was unconstitutional.

This ruling on Proposition 8 should mean that same-sex weddings can resume in the US state of California. Some had hoped that the court would issue a broader ruling applying to all US states, however this decision only applies to California.

After the California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, Proposition 8 was approved in state elections in November of that year, specifying that marriage is “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Following demonstrations, and protests against Prop 8, the California Supreme Court challenged the legislation, and upheld it, but allowed existing same-sex marriages to remain.

In 2010, the United States District Court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, and issued an injunction against enforcing it, the decision which the Supreme Court basically deferred to in today’s opinion, by saying the petitioners did not have a right to appeal this decision.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed that Prop 8 was unconstitutional in 2012, but the Supreme Court today said in its decision that the court should not have ruled either, as it was not in its jurisdiction.

“Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr wrote.

Questions still remain around how equal marriage will resume in the state, and whether the District Court ruling would apply to the entire state.

The court also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), today, which federally defined marrage as between one man and one woman. These cases are seen as key in the campaign for equality in the US.

Nine US states, and Washington DC currently allow equal marriage, and it will become law in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota in the summer.

The US state of Maryland in November 2012 became the first state to legalise equal marriage by means of a popular vote back in 2012. The law came into effect on 1 January 2013.

Washington and Maine also legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states on the same day.