The big news from California today is that a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (by a 2-1 margin) 2008’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional on equal protection grounds. The ruling upheld a District Court decision issued last year; the panel also denied a plea that the district judge in question (since retired) should have disqualified himself from hearing the case because he is gay and in a long-term relationship.
Prop 8 supporters are now expected to appeal the ruling to the full 9th Circuit, and if they lose there, to the U.S. Supreme Court, the destination of the dispute all along.
While supporters of marriage equality will cheer the news, from a political point of view the proceedings already feel a mite anachronistic. With public opinion steadily trending in favor of marriage equality, it’s likely Prop 8 would not win if it were on the California ballot this November. But obviously, the constitutional issue will have a major bearing on same-sex marriage in more conservative states where it might take a number of years for trends to produce a majority for equality.