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Gay marriage: California's Prop. 8 lands on doorstep of US Supreme Court (+video)

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It also comes as President Obama and the Democratic Party are considering embracing gay rights as a key priority on the party’s platform during the coming presidential election.

At issue in Hollingsworth v. Perry is whether a panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was correct when it ruled 2-to-1 in February that the 2008 California ballot initiative, Proposition 8, violated the equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry.

The issue of same-sex marriage arose after the California Supreme Court interpreted the state constitution as requiring the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Supporters of the traditional definition of marriage objected and organized a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution. The Prop. 8 amendment read: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

In the months before the statewide vote, 18,000 same-sex couples took advantage of the ruling and were married.

The campaign for and against Prop. 8 was bitter and divisive. Prop. 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote.

After the amendment passed, two same-sex couples filed suit in federal court in San Francisco, charging that Prop. 8 violated the US Constitution. A federal judge conducted a trial and ruled for the couples, declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

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