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Ban on Gay Marriages in California Sought before Ninth Circuit Full Court

The ban on gay marriages in California had been recently struck down by a three-judge panel on February 7, but the coalition of groups that seeks the ban to continue has asked for a rehearing of the case before a full panel of judges of the Ninth Circuit.

While the case may still go to the Supreme Court on appeal, the decision of a full panel and related opinions would have a strong influence upon the fate of the case, and whether the fate of gay marriages in California as also other similar cases across the nation.

Advocates representing Protect Marriage, a coalition supporting the Proposition 8 ballot initiative, asked the full federal court of appeals in San Francisco to reverse the ruling made by the 3-judge panel previously allowing lifting of the ban on gay marriages.

Lead counsel Charles Cooper wrote in a 52-page petition, “The panel majority’s decision conflicts with decisions of the United States Supreme Court and this Court, and consideration by the [full appeals] court is therefore necessary to secure and maintain uniformity of the court’s decisions.”

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Though the petition did not mention why rules must be immutable and law should not take into account changes in the fabric of the society, the petition has garnered enough support to be brought before the full court of appeals. The petition also did not explicitly address the fundamental issue as to why the petitioners thought a larger number of judges would be appropriate to decide the issue before sending it to Supreme Court.

The judgment sought to be overturned was made by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit which ruled 2 to 1 on the issue that the Prop 8 ballot initiative and related amendment of the State constitution violated the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples who sought to marry and claim rights equivalent to that of a heterosexual marriage.

The panel concerned did not directly tackle the issue on the fundamental questions raised but relied on a Supreme Court decision that prohibited states from discriminating against homosexual citizens, in order to nullify the ban.

The lead counsel for those supporting the ban said “The panel majority erred in breaking with the uniform and binding precedent upholding the constitutionality of laws adopting the traditional definition of marriage, and the Court, sitting en banc, should rehear this profoundly important case.”

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