After a 12-day trial in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a 136-page opinion in August 2010 in which he concluded that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walkers decision, though for a very state-specific reason that essentially confined its reach to California.
State officials declined to defend the same-sex marriage ban. Instead, conservative individuals argued on its behalf. The California Supreme Court concluded, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the view, that the opponents were authorized to step in since the state had stepped out.
DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
The federal law defining marriage inserted the national government into what traditionally had been state territory.
The case arose from a challenge filed by Edith Windsor, a computer programmer who married her longtime partner, Thea Clara Spyer, in 2007. They remained a couple until Spyer died in 2009. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibited Windsor from receiving a deduction afforded married couples. She had to pay $363,053 in estate taxes, and the Internal Revenue Service denied her refund request.
The House of Representatives, which passed the bill by an overwhelming 342-67, explained in a committee report that it was meant to convey moral disapproval of homosexuality. One of the laws chief backers at the time, current Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said during the House debate that homosexual conduct was based on perversion and . . . lust.
Citing the legislative record, Kennedy said interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages was the essence of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Obama administration initially defended the act, as is customary for administrations, but it stopped in February 2011 after concluding that Section 3 violated the Constitution. In its place, House Republicans funded the defense of the statute through whats called the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
Jim Sanders of The Sacramento Bee contributed to this article.