Proposition 8 was a 2008 California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage. It undid a decision by the state Supreme Court from earlier that year that found an earlier ban to be illegal.
Since its passage, Proposition 8 has been the subject of court actions and has continued to be one of the central battlefields in the fight over same-sex marriage in the United States.
In August 2011, a federal district judge found that Proposition 8 — passed by California voters by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent — violated the equal protection rights of two same-sex couples that brought the suit. The proposition placed a specific prohibition in the State Constitution against marriage between two people of the same sex.
On Feb. 7, 2012. a federal appeals court panel declared that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution, all but ensuring that the case will proceed to the United States Supreme Court. The court ruled that Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution by discriminating against a group of people, gay men and lesbians.
Supporters of Proposition 8 can now ask for a larger panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to take up the case. But they could also choose to appeal the case directly to the Supreme Court, setting the stage for a decision by the nation’s highest court on an issue that has roiled legal, political and cultural circles here and across the country.
The decision was the latest victory by same-sex marriage proponents in California since losing at the polls in 2008 and sets the stage for what backers of same-sex marriage said they were seeking: a fight before the Supreme Court.