This case involves the constitutionality of Proposition 8 (otherwise known as the "California Marriage Protection Act"), a referendum that amended the California Constitution to provide that legal marriages can only be between a man and a woman. After a federal trial, the district court ruled that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, and same-sex marriage opponents appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In October 2010, Americans United (joined by the Howard University civil-rights clinic) filed an amicus brief in support of the district court's ruling. Our brief observed that just as with interracial unions, opponents of gay marriage point to perceived threats to social order and the institutions of marriage and family, rely on pseudoscientific and religious notions that same-sex unions are unnatural, and assert that same-sex parenting will result in physical and psychological harm to children. We explained that just as these arguments proved baseless in the context of interracial marriage, they have no merit in the context of same-sex marriage.
In February 2012, the Ninth Circuit upheld the trial court and concluded that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional on the ground that it “singles out same-sex couples for unequal treatment by taking away from them alone the right to marry.” The Proposition 8 proponents have petitioned for review from the U.S. Supreme Court.