California Upholds Gay Marriage Ban

Court grandfathers in 18,000 gay marriages, creating a potential "conflict."

ByABC News
November 4, 2008, 11:28 PM

May 26, 2009— -- The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state of California.

At the same time, the ruling allows about 18,000 same-sex couples who'd already married to retain the rights they attained during the brief six-month period that gay marriage was legal in the state.

"There it goes," said Jim Schnobrich, who married his partner of 27 years in Pasadena, Calif., last September. "We have to keep going."

Still, the couple, who have two children, ages 13 and 14, said that they are now in a "weird class," as the ruling preserved their 8-month-old same sex-marriage.

"That's good news, but the bigger thing is that now we have this weird status that other people can't have. There is this kind of equality situation where people are maybe thinking we aren't really married."

"But it's not going to change anything in our lives," he told "We feel strongly about equality and will move ahead. But I worry for my kids and how they feel. I want them to be in a place like every other family at their school. It's hard to explain to them."

The announcement of the decision caused outcry among a sea of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the San Francisco courthouse to await the ruling.

Christian groups applauded retention of the ban.

"The Court's decision is a victory for the people of California and their desire to protect the traditional definition of marriage," said Robert Tyler, lawyer for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which supported the ban.

But others worried that the mixed ruling, honoring existing same-sex marriages, could create a conflict -- not only in the marital rights of Californians but in adoption and income tax laws.

"It's disappointing that the court will continue to uphold the legality of those who married during May to November of last year," said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family in Action. "We don't know what the situation will be like, but it's likely to cause havoc in the courts as they try to deal with a class of individuals that look totally different."

Gay rights advocates, disappointed with the ruling, said their next step would be to "take it back to the voters."

"Advocates for equality are convinced that Prop 8 will be overturned at the ballot," said the Family Equality Council, which fought the ban, in an official statement.

"Prop 8 was a sad, knee-jerk response to the sight of couples in love celebrating their happiness with family and friends," said Jennifer Pizer, director of the marriage project at Lambda Legal.

"It badly damaged the Constitution's equality guarantees," she said. "With today's deeply disappointing court decision, it is up to us as a caring, moral people to repair our constitution at the ballot box."