Less than two years ago California residents voted yes to Proposition 8, the insidious law that instated a ban on same-gender marriage. The ballot initiative, which passed with 52 percent of the vote in November 2008, rescinded a right the state’s Supreme Court had granted to gay citizens several months prior.
Since then, popular attitudes towards gay marriage amongst Californians have changed, albeit gradually, for the better: according to a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Institute of California, some 50% of Californians now support same-gender marriage. This is “the highest level of support for gay marriage their polls have [ever] recorded in California,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Proposition 8 has ignited a storm of controversy throughout the state of California and the across the nation since it was first passed. A case debating the ban’s constitutionality is currently being argued in the state’s high court, with famed lawyers David Boies and Theodore B. Olson working to overturn Prop 8. Legal experts widely predict that the case will reach the Supreme Court by 2011.
The judge who is presiding over the lawsuit challenging Prop 8’s consitutionality, San Francisco’s U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, has previously ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in other cases. The case currently being argued regarding Prop 8 is unusual in that it has involved a wide range of testimonies
from various witnesses, unlike other similar trials regarding marriage equality.
“Actually putting witnesses on the stand has never been done before in any lawsuit claiming a right to same-sex marriage,” said Andy Pugno, attorney for the pro-Prop 8 team and lead architect of the legislation. “So this is a very out-of-the-ordinary approach.”
The PPIC poll echoed similar results to a Los Angeles Times/USC poll released in November, which found that a small majority of California voters support the right of gay couples to marry. That poll also reported that a much larger portion of voters oppose efforts to place the issue on the ballot in 2010.