The justices took the easy way out in announcing this morning that the sponsors of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, did not have standing to represent the state or its voters in appealing lower court rulings that held the initiative unconstitutional. By dismissing the appeal by Prop 8 ‘s sponsors, the court’s ruling clears the way for gays and lesbians to marry in California, but it sidesteps the question of whether the Constitution allows states to prohibit same-sex marriages.
Meanwhile, in the other huge gay rights decision, the court struck down a major provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, clearing the way for legally married gay men and women to claim the same federal benefits available to opposite-sex married couples. The 5 to 4 vote was announced moments before the Prop 8 decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion that DOMA, the acronym for the federal law, violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. LA Times; Analysis, NYT