Secular Coalition Applauds Court Decision Declaring ‘Prop 8’ Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON D.C.—The Secular Coalition for America today applauded the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision to strike down California’s “Proposition 8”, a religiously backed voter-mandated ban on same-sex marriage.

Yesterday, in a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8, which overruled a state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. The Circuit Court’s decision upheld the U.S. District Court’s earlier decision against Proposition 8 as well. Advocates of the measure have promised to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Proposition 8 was heavily backed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) because it conflicted with the church’s beliefs on marriage. According to a 2008 story in the Los Angeles Times, the Mormon Church is estimated to have given more than $20 million to pass the initiative.

The 128-page opinion issued by the Circuit Court against California's ban on same-sex marriage referred to the ballot initiative as discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Secular Coalition for America President Herb Silverman said the court made the right decision, citing the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees a separation of church and state, while the 14th extends equal protection of the law to all citizens.

“Proposition 8 was another attempt to insert religious doctrine into our secular civil laws,” Silverman said. “By denying same sex couples the right to marry, Proposition 8 treated gay couples inequitably – and in doing so, ignored the secular freedoms the Constitution provides us.”

The civil contract of marriage is issued by governmental entities and affords over a thousand legal rights and responsibilities. The Secular Coalition’s position is that while a church or religious institution has the right to determine how it defines marriage, it cannot insert those beliefs into the secular government, which must provide equal protection for all of its citizens.

The Secular Coalition for America opposes theological definitions for civil contracts and supports marriage equality, including a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.

“The Circuit Court’s decision is a step in the right direction—for the people of California and the country as a whole, “Silverman said, reaffirming the Secular Coalition’s continued support of marriage equality at state and federal levels. “Religious attacks on marriage equality are attacks on our secular government and an affront to the very Constitution that sets our nation apart.” 

The Circuit Court’s decision yesterday may set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on gay marriage, which could happen as early as next year. Gay marriage is now legal in six states plus the District of Columbia, and is being considered in several other states including Washington, New Jersey, and Maryland. In May, a Gallup poll showed that for the first time a majority of Americans approved of gay marriage. In that survey, 53 percent of respondents said they approved of same-sex marriages.


CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA communications manager …….. 202-299-1091 ext. 205 or [email protected]

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