The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear legal challenges to Proposition 8; the measure banning same-sex marriage in California.
Proposition 8 was passed by the state’s voters by a narrow margin of 52 percent in a referendum on November 4.
In an order issued on Wednesday, the Court agreed to hear the cases but refused to allow same-sex couples to continue marrying until it makes its ruling.
On November 5, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court on behalf of six couples.
The City of San Francisco, joined by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and Santa Clara County, filed a similar challenge, as did a private attorney in Los Angeles.
The lawsuits claim that Proposition 8 is an improper revision to the California Constitution because it eliminates an existing right only for a targeted minority.
If permitted to stand, Proposition 8 would be the first time an initiative has successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take away an existing right only for a particular group.
Such a change would defeat the very purpose of a constitution and fundamentally alter the role of the courts in protecting minority rights, say the complainants.
According to the California Constitution, such a serious revision of the state constitution cannot be enacted through a simple majority vote, but must first be approved by two-thirds of the legislature, which was not done in this case.
Over the past 100 years, the California Supreme Court has heard nine cases challenging either legislative enactments or initiatives as invalid revisions of the California Constitution. In three of those cases, the court invalidated those measures.