Thursday, May 15, 2008

LGBT Victory: California Supreme Court - Gay Marriage is Legal

In 4-3 decision authored by Chief Justice George, the California Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is a constitutional right same-sex couples cannot be denied! This is a major victory for the LGBT movement!

Gay marriages will begin (again) in the State of California in 30 days!

California Supreme Court: If civil marriage were an institution whose only role was to serve the interests of society, it reasonably could be asserted that the state should have full authority to decide whether to establish or abolish the institution of marriage (and any similar institution, such as domestic partnership).

In recognizing, however, that the right to marry is a basic, constitutionally protected civil right — “a fundamental right of free men [and women]” (Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d 711, 714) —the governing California cases establish that this right embodies fundamental interests of an individual that are protected from abrogation or elimination by the state.41 Because our cases make clear that the right to marry is an integral component of an individual’s interest in personal autonomy protected by the privacy provision of article I, section 1, and of the liberty interest protected by the due process clause of article I, section 7, it is apparent under the California Constitution that the right to marry — like the right to establish a home and raise hildren — has independent substantive content, and cannot properly be understood as simply the right to enter into such a relationship if (but only if) the Legislature chooses to establish and retain it. (Accord, Poe v. Ullman (1961) 367 U.S. 497, 553 (dis. opn. of Harlan, J.) [“the intimacy of husband and wife is necessarily an essential and accepted feature of the institution of marriage, an institution which the State not only must allow, but which always and in every age it has fostered and protected” (italics added)].

One very important aspect of the substantive protection afforded by the California constitutional right to marry is, of course, an individual’s right to be free from undue governmental intrusion into (or interference with) integral features of this relationship — that is, the right of marital or familial privacy.

In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry — and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society — the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.

In sum, we conclude that statutes imposing differential treatment on the basis of sexual orientation should be viewed as constitutionally suspect under the California Constitution’s equal protection clause.

In striking down the ban, the court said, "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation — like a person's race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."


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