Court strikes down Prop. 8

Talk about a great Valentine’s Day gift for same-sex couples.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco today handed down a decision finding that a ban on same-sex marriage in the state is unconstitutional.

The 2-1 decision came three years after the controversial Prop 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, was passed in the 2008 elections.

The majority decision argued that a state cannot legally take away the rights of a minority — specifically, the gay community — catering to the whims of a majority.

Justice Stephen Reinhart wrote in his majority opinion:

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution does not allow for laws of this sort.”

They found that Prop 8 had violated the constitutional right to equal protection under the law for gays and lesbians.

Despite this favorable ruling, however, opponents of the Prop 8 ban noted that the decision was limited in scope. The justices chose not to issue an opinion on whether or not gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, instead sticking to the issue of Prop 8’s constitutionality.

The one dissenting vote came from Republican-appointed N. Randy Smith, who argued that there was a reasonable basis for enacting the law in the first place. The other two justices, however, disagreed, arguing that the ballot measure was rooted solely in “disapproval of gays and lesbians as a class.”

Supporters of Prop 8 have pledged to appeal, and neither side is showing any signs of giving up the fight. The case is expected to reach the Supreme Court.