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CA Prop. 8 Gay Marriage Ruling Set for Tuesday

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 06, 2012 7:11 PM

A federal appeals court is set to release its long-awaited ruling Tuesday on California's Proposition 8, a ballot measure that barred same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' Prop. 8 ruling, set for release at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, will likely not end the same-sex marriage debate. All parties expect the Ninth Circuit's decision to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, NPR reports.

Here is some background about Prop. 8, and some possible outcomes in the Ninth Circuit's Prop. 8 ruling:

California voters in 2008 approved Prop. 8, which amended the state Constitution to read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." California's Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 as constitutional in 2009.

But in federal court in 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop. 8 violated the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses. Prop. 8's sponsors appealed Walker's ruling to the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit's ruling tomorrow may:

  • Affirm Judge Walker's Prop. 8 ruling. If this happens, Walker's lower-court decision will stand. Prop. 8 will be struck down as unconstitutional, and same-sex marriage in California will once again be allowed.
  • Reverse Judge Walker's ruling. If this happens, Prop. 8 will stand, and California's statewide ban on same-sex marriage will continue.

After Judge Walker's ruling in 2010, Prop. 8 supporters also challenged Walker's role as an impartial judge. Because Walker is gay, he should have recused himself from the Prop. 8 cases, the ban's supporters argued. But another federal judge dismissed the challenge.

Tuesday's Ninth Circuit Prop. 8 ruling will be posted at the Ninth Circuit's website. We'll post the official court documents at FindLaw's Courtside blog as well.

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