The California Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the backers of Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage in that state do have the standing to sue in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a District Court judge’s ruling that the proposition violated the US constitution. Hence their appeal can go forward. If the court had ruled the other way, the District Court opinion would have gone forward and gays would have been able to marry.
I think the verdict is the correct one. Usually, it is the state government that pursues any appeals to court decisions that overturn laws but in this case the governor and attorney general of California had both declined to appeal the District Court ruling. I am uncomfortable with the idea that government officials should be given the power to prevent a full legal hearing of an issue. The backers of a proposition should have the right to pursue the legal process to its end.
Although this is a setback for gay rights, a more important principle is at stake and that is that government officials should not be given the power to determine who gets their day in court.
I think this setback for gay rights is temporary. The march for equal rights is unstoppable and that day will come soon, both in the courts and in public opinion.