Same-sex marriage may soon be on its way to the United States Supreme Court.
Members of the Penn community are applauding a Tuesday ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
A three-judge panel voted 2-1 to strike down Proposition 8 — a 2008 voter ballot measure in California that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
According to The New York Times, Tuesday’s decision “all but ensured that the case [will] proceed to the United States Supreme Court” upon appeal.
For College sophomore Hugh Hamilton, chair of the Lambda Alliance — Penn’s umbrella organization for LGBT groups — the court’s decision comes as a major encouragement for the LGBT community.
“I am personally thrilled with the outcome,” Hamilton said. “It will definitely be a boon when the case reaches the Supreme Court.”
College freshman Cameron Kiani, who considers himself a supporter of same-sex marriage, agreed that “this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
However, he added that “it’s amazing that there are people in this country who don’t share all the same rights. It’s almost like going back to the Civil Rights movement — it’s ridiculous that people would deny others the right to marriage.”
College junior Lisa Doi agreed.
“I personally believe that marriage is a legal institution,” she said. “I think that marriage should not just be limited to a man and a woman — that definition is too limited.”
Tuesday’s decision holds significant ramifications for the legislative push for same-sex marriage across the nation.
According to Political Science professor Rogers Smith, the nature of the ruling makes it a strong precedent to be used in future litigation.
“What the court ruled was that there was no reason for Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage,” he said. “For a court to find that there is simply no rational basis for restrictions on same-sex marriage, that’s a very powerful argument that can be cited in litigation everywhere.”
Smith added that the ruling will make it difficult for religious reasons to be used as justification for bans on same-sex marriage.
Penn’s LGBT Center Director Bob Schoenberg also believed that the ruling holds “significant implications in the advancement of the case for same-sex marriage.”
“The state of Washington is on the verge of adopting it, and with California perhaps about to be added to the list of states … we’re approaching 20 percent of states,” he said.
Now that Proposition 8 has been struck down by the federal appeals court, proponents of a same-sex marriage ban can appeal the decision in one of two ways. They can either request to have the case reheard en banc — before an 11-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit — or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
For College junior and Vice-Chair of Lambda’s Political Affairs Jake Tolan, the future of the case gives him mixed emotions.
“I’m excited, but I’m a little bit nervous at the same time. I think it is very likely that the decision is going to be appealed and go to the Supreme Court,” he said. “[But] I understand that there are several conservative judges on the Supreme Court who may be hesitant to support such a ruling.”
Smith added that any future precedent established by the Supreme Court will outweigh Tuesday’s decision.
However, he believes that the Ninth Circuit’s holding was “certainly a victory for the LGBT community in California, as well as a legal victory that can serve as [a] precedent for winning expanded LGBT rights elsewhere.”
“Whatever happens, it will definitely set the tone for gay marriage in America,” Tolan added.
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