A California court ruled Thursday that proponents of Proposition 8, an initiative to protect traditional marriage, have the right to defend the ban on same-sex marriage, which could push the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional in Aug. 2010, and the ban ceased to exist in Aug. 2010. Both previous Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Gov. Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 by appealing the court's decision.
“It has been nothing short of shameful to see Gov. Jerry Brown, his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Kamala Harris abdicate their constitutional responsibility to defend Proposition 8 in court," Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, told CNN.
On Thursday, California's Supreme Court determined that the official proponents of Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage.com, have enough legal standing to defend themselves in court. Therefore, the group is now able to appeal the Aug. 2010 ruling that the proposition is unconstitutional.
"We conclude that California law authorizes the official proponents, under such circumstances, to appear in the proceeding to assert the state's interest in the initiative's validity and to appeal a judgment invalidating the measure," stated Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye after a unanimous ruling was made.
The statement went on to say that not allowing Proposition 8 supporters to be represented in court would provide Gov. Jerry Brown and the attorney general too much indirect veto power, especially because Proposition 8 won the majority vote of California residents in Nov. 2008.
"Voters should not be left without any defense just because their officials refused to defend them," said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, in a statement. ADF attorneys are part of the ProtectMarriage.com legal team.
Nimocks contends that if the appeal had not been granted, "state officials will succeed in indirectly invalidating a measure that they had no power to strike down directly."
According to The New York Times, lawyers contend that the court's decision increases the chance that the unconstitutionality trial could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brian Raum, Vice President of the Senior Council in Charge of Marriage and Family at the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), told The Christian Post Thursday that past court cases have declared marriage laws between a man and a woman to be constitutional.
"This is something that is well established and we are confident that the court will affirm that principle," Raum told CP, adding that the ADF is "cautiously optimistic" regarding the case.
Supporters of same-sex marriage see Thursday's ruling as a hard hit, but not irreparable.
"While a disappointing ruling, this case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory," Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson told the Los Angeles Times.
Proposition 8 has been a source of controversy in California for several years.
In May 2008, same-sex marriage was legalized in the state. Only a few months afterward, however, a referendum passed in Nov. 2008, known as Proposition 8, which restored the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Prop. 8 was then found unconstitutional in Aug. 2010, and its supporters now given the right to appeal that ruling.
Currently, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.