Prop 8 is Unconstitutional – Now What?

Great news out of California this week! Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same sex marriage in California, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court on Tuesday.
Prop 8 has been very controversial since 2008, when it was narrowly passed by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent. You probably remember the Yes on Prop 8/No on Prop 8 campaigns. Even though the law only affected California, people from around the country got involved with the issue. And even though countless celebrities and big companies like Google threw their weight behind the No on Prop 8 campaign, it still managed to pass.

Ever since then, activists have been fighting Prop 8 in court, trying to get it declared unconstitutional. The recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals actually upholds the decision of a lower court from 2010. Prop 8 has now been ruled unconstitutional twice, but both sides are looking to decide the issue for good. The only way to do that is to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, so it looks like that is probably going to be the next step.
So what exactly does that mean? It creates a lot of what-ifs. First of all, the Supreme Court could decide not to take the case at all. That would make this week’s decision final, and Prop 8 would be squashed.
But because marriage equality is such a big issue, the Supreme Court will probably take the case. And if they do, their decision could have huge long-term effects on the entire country. If the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court, Prop 8 would be upheld and same sex marriage would be illegal in California. But if the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court, Prop 8 would be gone for good.
Supreme Court decisions set precedent for other courts, and influence their verdicts. So a Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 could set the standard for same sex marriage laws and court cases across the country.
It’s a lot to think about, and there’s no way to know what the future of Prop 8 might be. But for now, one more court has ruled it unconstitutional. And that’s one big step in the right direction.
Garnet is a student at Columbia University in New York City. She is “that person” who starts dancing at a party when everyone else is standing around, and if there were a Facebook stalking Olympics, she would be a gold medalist. She also has a love for cheesy 90s music, and almost died of happiness when Vanilla Ice retweeted her. Once. Follow her on Twitter @garnethenderson.

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