To channel financial guru Suze Orman, “Anti-equality people, you are DE-NIED!”

In what can only be considered another major step forward on the road to equality, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied this morning a request by backers of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that stripped that state’s gays and lesbians of the right to marry, to have a larger panel hear the case all over again in what is known as an en banc hearing.

So what does this mean? The existing appeals ruling, which upheld the trial court decision overturning Prop 8 as unconstitutional, stands. The last shot that opponents of marriage equality now have is the US Supreme Court. With the narrow scope of the ruling, and also considering how few of the appeals it receives that the Supreme Court hears, it is anyone’s guess whether or not this appeal will even be heard at all.

If it is heard, the Court’s conservative composition might not be as big an issue here. While the Supreme Court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, tends to side with the conservative wing on major cases, he has been a leading voice in favour of gay rights on the cases that have made it to that court. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Romer v Evans, which overturned a Colorado amendment stripping the LGBT community of various civil rights. He also wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas, which overturned sodomy bans in Texas and other states.

For now, Prop 8 remains intact. The Ninth Circuit has put its decision on hold for 90 days to allow Prop 8 supporters to file their appeal with the US Supreme Court. If there is no appeal, or the Supreme Court denies the request to hear the case, that hold will be removed and Prop 8 will die. If the Supreme Court decides to take the case, it’ll be up to another year before we have a final answer.

Submitted By: Sameer Ismail
Sameer Ismail has been a political consultant for a number of years. He holds a Political Science degree from the University of British Columbia, and is currently pursuing a degree in Law.

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