Calif. Gay 'Marriage' Ruling Could Have Huge Impact, Experts Say

Last week, after California's high court overturned the state's ban on gay "marriage," floods of media reports began analyzing the court ruling's impact and historical implications.

According to experts, the decision to begin granting "marriage" licenses to homosexuals in the nation's most populous state could have an impact unprecedented on the nation's landscape.

In a study last December – months before the California Supreme Court began hearing the legal arguments for and against gay "marriage – a study done by the University of California-Davis' Law Review revealed California's Supreme Court as the most influential in the nation. According to the study, a total of 1,260 decisions made by the California high court have been mimicked and followed by other states, a figure higher than any other state in the union.

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Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at the Pepperdine University Law School in Malibu, Calif., emphasized that the California high court's decision on gay "marriage" would have far greater impact than the similar decision by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts to legalize gay "marriage" in 2004.

"The way the Massachusetts court had interpreted its state law, same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was not available to non-residents," Kmiec explained, according to Cybercast News Service.

"In California, there's no waiting period, there's no residency requirement, and so yesterday's ruling doesn't just affect a single state with a very large population," he added.

"One of the principal effects of the California decision will be to create large numbers of same-sex marriages that will not only reside in California, but will migrate across the country," he continued. The migration of same-sex couples to other states could then spur the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, he explained.

The significance of California as a battle ground in the controversy over gay "marriage" has not been lost among pro-family organizations. Many pro-family and Christian groups are scuttling to put together a constitutional amendment that will thoroughly ban gay "marriage" in the state once-in-for-all.

The measure – which is still being processed by the State Registrar – has attracted over 1 million signatures.

If a majority of state residents vote positively on the ban this November, the amendment will overturn and nullify the decision by the California Supreme Court – an outcome that Christian groups are counting on.

"The only way Californians can reverse [the California Supreme Court's] outrageous decision and restore common sense is by passing the [gay "marriage" ban] on the November ballot," Bill May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good and spokesperson for Stand with Children, explained. "That would put the definition of marriage in the state constitution – putting it out of reach of judges and politicians."

While the effort to add the gay "marriage" ban to the state constitution has been complicated recently by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's publicly announced support of the high court's ruling, Christian groups are confident that the will of the people will prevail.

"The majority of Americans recognize the fact that legitimate marriage and family are cornerstones of a healthy society," explained Matthew Barber of the Concerned Women of America (CWA) in a statement released the day of the court ruling.

According to a recent Gallup poll, gay "marriage" is unpopular among the majority of Americans. Only 40 percent of Americans "currently say marriage between same-sex couples should be legal," according to the poll's results released this month.

Pending the ruling of the California Supreme Court, gay couples will be eligible to file for marriage licenses within 30 days.

Christian groups have requested that state officials issue a "stay" on gay "marriage" licenses until after the results of the November ballot.

Since 2004, when the Massachusetts State Supreme Court made its ruling to recognize gay "marriage," 26 states have passed a constitutional ban on the practice, while over a dozen others have passed laws limiting or outlawing it.

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