A federal appeals court has declared California's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the US Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the US Constitution when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," states the opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court's most liberal judges.
Backers of the ban said they would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling.
"We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage – tried in San Francisco – turned out this way," said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group that helped defend the ban.
Supporters of gay marriage hailed the ruling. American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin, who formed the group along with director Rob Reiner to fight the ban, called the panel's ruling "a historic victory".
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