A state appeals court ruled Thursday that California's ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians, a critical defeat to a movement hungry for a win after high courts in New York and Washington state upheld similar bans.
In reversing the 2005 ruling of a San Francisco trial judge, the California Court of Appeal for the 1st Appellate District agreed with the state's attorney general, who argued that California's ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gay men and lesbians because of the state's domestic-partner law.
"We conclude California's historical definition of marriage does not deprive individuals of a vested fundamental right or discriminate against a suspect class," the court said. "The time may come when California chooses to expand the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex unions. That change must come from democratic processes, however, not by judicial fiat."
Couples who register as domestic partners have the same rights as married people in California, except for the ability to file income taxes jointly. The ruling does not eliminate the possibility that same-sex couples could someday get married in California. Advocates of same-sex marriage said beforehand that they would appeal to the state Supreme Court if the intermediate court did not decide in their favor.