BREAKING: California State Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Protect Marriage On Standing in Prop 8 Case

The California Supreme Court has ruled that Protect Marriage has legal standing to appeal Judge Walker’s decision on Prop 8, and can continue their court case.

We had been waiting for quite some time now on the next step forward in the glacial movement of the Prop 8 case towards some kind of conclusion. For the past few months, that’s meant waiting on a decision about whether or not Protect Marriage, the Yes on 8 side, has legal standing to pursue the appeal Judge Walker’s decision that Prop 8 was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Experts were not necessarily optimistic about Protect Marriage’s being denied standing, which would mean being told that they didn’t have a legitimate basis to pursue an appeal after the state of California didn’t do so itself. Protect Marriage believes that the state is shirking responsibility by refusing to defend Prop 8, and that they should be allowed to pick up the slack. California State Supreme Court justices seemed reluctant to entertain the thought of denying standing, voicing concerns that it would set a precedent that would dramatically reduce the power of voter initiatives, especially if they’re ones that the state just didn’t feel like defending. On the other hand, however, Protect Marriage’s being denied standing would make it that much more likely that a federal court would also find them without standing, which would prevent Prop 8 from going to the Supreme Court (although that might not be such a bad thing), and would instead mean that the court case simply fell apart and marriage equality could return to California.

The court’s ruling today doesn’t mean anything definitive about the future of Prop 8 or marriage in California. It does mean that the case is much more likely to head to the Supreme Court, which is a momentous thing, but not necessarily either good or bad. A decision about the constitutionality of Prop 8 in the Supreme Court would have huge ramifications for the nation as a whole; if Prop 8 were declared unconstitutional on a federal level, it would set a precedent across America as far as the legality of same-sex marriage bans. On the other hand, if the case does make it to the Supreme Court and Judge Walker’s ruling is not upheld there, we could lose a lot of the legal ground we’ve gained for marriage equality so far. Which is where things like Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court, like Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, become a factor. One would hope that if Protect Marriage’s performance in court is as laughable as it was in the original trial, then the Supreme Court might be the best thing that’s ever happened to the gay families of California (and the rest of the country). But if marginalized communities in America have learned anything through generations of activism, it’s that the court system isn’t always something you can count on. Today’s ruling from the California Supreme Court means we will probably have the chance to find out.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. It’s going to wind up at the Supreme Court almost certainly now I’d have thought. All the chips being placed on Justice Kennedy (assuming Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Stevens are all likely votes for the gay marriage side of the case).

    • Kennedy has historically voted with the liberal bloc on gay rights issues; in fact, he wrote the majority opinion for Lawrence v. Texas (the case that overturned sodomy laws and probably one of the most important Supreme Court cases in recent years).

    • It is not likely to happen this term of the Supreme Court even if it moves very quickly. There is a potential for next term (end of 2012-2013) but no one can be very sure. There is also some possibility that other cases (those involving DOMA) will get to the Supreme Court before or at the same time that this one does.

  2. Just wait a couple decades and California will be voting on the legality of man-lady marriage. If Arnold can be governor, they can have something called an ‘after dark fungus festival’ in San Jose, and Hollywood exists, then anything can happen.

  3. Goodness, I can’t even imagine my heartbreak if the Supreme Court were to rule against Walker’s decision.

    Perhaps I should get married now *just in case.*

    I hope that the SC fears a political nightmare and refuses to hear it.

    • If the Supreme Court decides against Walker’s ruling, that doesn’t mean that states that have marriage equality will lose it, it just means that the existing state bans would stand (and states that don’t have them could institute them in the future if they wanted).

      It’s kind of like how if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, it would not make abortion illegal everywhere – it would just mean states could completely ban it if they wanted to, but states that are more pro-choice would remain so.

  4. Honestly, it’s less about what the SCOTUS decides and more about what Anthony Kennedy decides.

    Assuming current makeup of the court is in place when the case reaches, you can pretty much tick off the votes of Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito to one side and Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan,and Breyer to the other. Kennedy is the tossup.

    • It’s not really either. Having legal standing to pursue a case doesn’t mean they have a good argument for it (in fact, so far their case has bee pretty lousy). It’s kind of like how just because someone has the right to free speech doesn’t mean they have anything to say that people actually want to hear.

  5. I’m glad they have standing. I just think it makes a joke of equality if the majority can rule a minority can’t have a human right they enjoy.

    Fuck this country if that happens at the Supreme Court. I will lose ALL FAITH IN THE SYSTEM.

  6. Okay. Fine. I just hope this goes down in flames. IN FLAMES.

    We are going to win this. There really isn’t another option.

  7. The best thing we can do about this now is, since this is going to take years to reach SCOTUS, ensure that Obama is re-elected so that some conservative Republican doesn’t get to appoint justices who will turn back the clock on this issue and others.

Comments are closed.