Proposition 8 decision bolsters the fight for same-sex marriage

Of course, Reinhardt's decision stops short of requiring all states and the federal government to recognize same-sex nuptials. But it's a big step in the right direction, as it sets the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to take on the issue.

It's also good news as the 2012 presidential election approaches — meaning marriage equality will likely continue to be a topic of debate — and the issue continues to work its way from state to state. Currently, three states have pending legislation that could allow gay couples to marry: New Jersey, Maryland and Washington.

Washington is the closest to legalizing same-sex marriage. Just yesterday, the state's House — following the Senate's vote last week — voted in favor of a marriage equality bill that the governor plans on signing into law sometime next week, as soon as it lands on her desk. This will make Washington the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage.

New Jersey will also be voting on its gay marriage law sometime this month, while Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the ballot in November. And on the heels of the Prop. 8 news, three openly gay state representatives in Illinois introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to that state this week.

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court struck down the infamous Proposition 8, a voter-mandated law that banned same-sex marriage in California. Judge Stephen Reinhardt concluded that Prop. 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In his decision, Reinhardt wrote that the legislation "serves no purpose, and has no effect in California, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort." His finding upheld the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional.

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