The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear a legal challenge to California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, a ballot measure approved by state voters on November 4th. The state's top court also issued an order Wednesday that will keep the ban in place at least until any ruling is issued.
The court's deliberation and decision on Proposition 8 could rest on whether the gay marriage ban is a mere "amendment" to the state's constitution, or rises to the level of a constitutional "revision" (see "The Law and Prop. 8" from the L.A. Times for more information on legal issues raised by the measure). Placed on the California ballot largely in response to a May 2008 California Supreme Court decision that found the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional -- and which opened the door to the thousands of same-sex marriage marriages that have since taken place in the state -- Proposition 8 changes the state constitution to limit the legal definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
The Los Angeles Times reports that "The court may hold a hearing on the lawsuits as early as March, a timetable that scholars said was swift considering the complexity and importance of the legal issues." According to Reuters, the case "pits two fundamental concepts of U.S. democracy against one another, with gay marriage advocates saying the proposition would open the doors to systematic repression of minorities and opponents saying courts must recognize the will of the people under separation of powers doctrine."