Today, the California Supreme Court just announced its decision to allow all Californians the Freedom to Marry. The court found that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the California Constitution. This is important because it dictates the “standard of review” the court used in deciding the case — most cases in the appellate courts are decided on the standard of review.
The court rejected arguments that the right to marry is limited, quoting the case on interracial marriage from 1948, instead focusing on “the substance of the constitutional right at issue – that is, the importance to an individual of the freedom ‘to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice’ – in determining whether the statute impinged upon the plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional right.”
A key quote from the decision:
In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry – and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society – the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.
It is true, of course, that as an historical matter in this state marriage always has been limited to a union between a man and a woman. Tradition alone, however, generally has not been viewed as a sufficient justification for perpetuating, without examination, the restriction or denial of a fundamental constitutional right. (Cf. Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d 711, 727; Sail’er Inn, Inc. v. Kirby (1971) 5 Cal.3d 1, 17-19 (Sail’er Inn).)45