What Happened to Proposition 8?

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision inHollingsworth v. Perry, the California Constitution, as amended by “Proposition 8” (eff. 11/5/08), limited a valid and recognizable “marriage” toopposite-sexcouples. There was only one narrow “window period” exception (between May 15, 2008 and before November 5, 2008) during which marriages entered into in California between same-sex couples were deemed valid and thus fully recognized under state law. [See Strauss v. Horton (2009) 46 C4th 364,(upholding Constitutionality of Prop. 8, which amended California Constitution to state “[o]nly marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California,” but applying it prospectively so as not to invalidate retroactively lawful marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to its effective date; see also In re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 C4th 757, 779–785, 76 CR3d 683, 699–702 (ruling Family Code provisions limiting marriage to opposite-sex couplesunconstitutional under then-existing Calif. Constitution)]
Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional by California federal district court and Ninth Circuit: On August 4, 2010, a federal district court in Northern California ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional as violative of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. [Perry v. Schwarzenegger (ND CA 2010) 704 F.Supp.2d 921, 994–1003]
The federal district court decision enjoining enforcement of Prop. 8 was stayed pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit. On February 7, 2012, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court decision holding Prop. 8unconstitutional, but permitted the stay pending its appeal to remain in effect until issuance of a mandate. [Perry v. Brown (9th Cir. 2012) 671 F3d 1052, 1063, 1096 & fn. 27]
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court determined Prop. 8’s proponents did not have standing to appeal the district court decision holding Prop. 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit decision affirming the district court decision was vacated, but the Supreme Court left standing the district court decision invalidating Prop 8. [Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013) US,, 133 S.Ct. 2652, 2662–2668]
As a result of Hollingsworth, supra, parties to any lawfully contracted same-sex marriage, regardless when or where it was entered into, presently have the same rights in California as opposite-sex spouses
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court determined Prop. 8’s proponents did not have standing to appeal the district court decision holding Prop. 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit decision affirming the district court decision was vacated, but the Supreme Court left standing the district court decision invalidating Prop 8. [Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013) US,, 133 S.Ct. 2652, 2662–2668]
As a result of Hollingsworth, parties to any lawfully contracted same-sex marriage, regardless when or where it was entered into, presently have the same rights in California as opposite-sex spouses.

As originally enacted, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined “marriage” as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and “spouse” as referring “only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife” (1 USC § 7). However, on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional this section of DOMA. Thus, lawfully married same-sex couples now are entitled to the same federal benefits afforded heterosexual married couples. [See United States v. Windsor. (2013) US,, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 2693–2696—federal law denying benefits to legally married same-sex couple declared unconstitutional as “a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution”].

Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional and if you have questions if this affects your marriage, please contact our office.
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