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Locals react to Proposition 8 being declared unconstitutional

Some say decision is a victory, others want to review details
By: Sara Seyydin and the Associated Press Journal Staff Writer
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A decision made by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday, declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, is causing controversy among local residents. Some local leaders say the court’s decision is a civil rights victory, while others say they believe people need to take a closer look at both the proposition and the court’s ruling. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 — a response to an earlier state court decision that legalized gay marriage — was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians. Proposition 8, passed by voters in 2008, legally defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Supporters say they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. "No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people," said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8. Sophie Unger, a board member and spokesperson for the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Placer County, said members of the organization communicated with one another about the court decision throughout the day Tuesday. Her only concern is that it could take a long time for gays and lesbians who want to marry to be able to. “I think it’s very positive. I think the only thing that concerns me is that it sounds like it is going to be a long time before people that want to get married can,” Unger said. “Short of that, it’s fantastic.” Unger said it is important for gays and lesbians to have marriages, not just domestic partnerships. “There is talk about well, ‘we can have domestic partnerships,’ but culturally we all put a high importance on the word marriage, but the feeling is that we all want to be able to share that if we find the right person,” Unger said. She said she has seen positive changes, even in predominately conservative Placer County. “We have grown enormously in the last year, so it has been very positive. Sierra College had their pride days a few months back. I talked there and there was a lot of good energy, so I am hopeful,” Unger said. “I think things are changing, even here in a place like Placer County.” Auburn City Council Member and Republican Dr. Bill Kirby said he believes the court made the right decision Tuesday because marriage is a legal, not a religious issue. “Marriage is a civil ceremony. The churches can do whatever they want, but marriage is according to the law is a civil ceremony,” Kirby said. “The majority of the people cannot take civil rights away from the minority. People think that it’s majority rules in this country, but it’s rule by the Constitution. The Constitution says you can’t discriminate.” Auburn City Council Member Mike Holmes said he wants to look into the details of the court’s decision and Proposition 8. “I’ve heard some analysis of it and you really have to look at what the details of what the court said,” Holmes said. “It’s not just that they simply struck down Prop 8. There were other factors. For example it is my understanding that it would still allow civil unions, so I am just not sure until we see further analysis of it.” Backers of Proposition 8 said they would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling. Holmes said he agrees that could happen in the future. “I guess we have to take a look at the details of the opinion that came down from the 9th Circuit,” Holmes said. “The 9th circuit is probably the most liberal of the system. I’d want to take a closer look at the details.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.