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After Prop 8, Future Of Gay Marriages Unclear

This story was written by Leslie Toy, Daily Californian


When UC Berkeley junior Ivan Sanz witnessed his brother's wedding in August, he didn't realize that the union may not legally stand the test of time.

With the passage of California State Proposition 8 Tuesday, many similar marriages may now come under question.

"It's just sad now because all of those rights that he and his husband gained were taken away," Sanz said. "What do you say to someone who has been stripped of their rights?"

This May, the California Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22, a proposition from 2000 that refused to recognize gay marriages from other states. However,the passage of Proposition 8 not only effectively reinstated Proposition 22 but also went a step further to define marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman.

Eight years ago, the ban passed with a 61.4 percent majority, compared to Tuesday's totals that approved Proposition 8 by 52.5 percent.

Same-sex couples who were married following the Supreme Court decision in May now face an uncertain future after Californians voted Tuesday to ban gay marriage.

Boalt Hall School of Law lecturer-in-residence Joan Hollinger said that supporters of Proposition 8 could theoretically take cases to court in an effort to nullify gay marriages that occurred between May and November of this year.

"No one really knows what will happen," she said.

However, Hollinger said she does not think that those suits would be successful.

"The decision of most of the people I've spoken to is that the marriages- and I'm told there's over 18,000 of them that have occurred between the time of the Supreme Court decisions and yesterday-are going to remain valid marriages," Hollinger said. "It would be most unusual for a constitutional amendment to apply retroactively."

In contrast to the rest of the state, Proposition 8 did not pass in Alameda County. The proposal was defeated by 61.9 percent of local voters.

In February 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The 3,955 unions were invalidated in August of that year when the California Supreme Court ruled that Newsom did not have the authority to distribute licenses. However, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on gay marriage, this time for the entire state, in May of that year.

But, after Tuesday's election, the state constitution would have to be modified in order to reinstate same-sex marriages.

Hollinger said there will be difficulties for same-sex spouses, even if their marriages are upheld.

"Do they have to carry around their certified marriage document to prove the day and the hour that they were married?" she said. "Will the bank accept the deposit in spouse and spouse terms? You don't know. If the bank doesn't accept your status, what do you do?"

Some UC Berkeley students protested the proposition's passage yesterday at noon, saying that the state proposition was a dampener on their election experience.

"I feel very conflicted," said Carlo de la Cruz, academic affairs vice president of the ASUC, at the rally. "I have renewed faith in the country as a whole, but I don't know how to feel as a Californian."

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