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Supreme Court dismisses Proposition 8; community leaders want more

After throwing out section four of the Voting Rights Act yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that petitioners did not have legal standing to appeal proposition 8, a proposal banning same-sex marriage.

It is the second time this week that the court has gone to a 5-4 split vote as the battle for marriage equality continues.

“Today’s historic decisions are a significant leap forward for freedom and justice for same-sex couples and their families, the LGBT community and for our nation — and a lot more work needs to be done to deliver marriage equality to the rest of our nation’s same-sex couples and their families and full equality in every other respect for all LGBT people,” said Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director.

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When the California Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in 2008, state voters came up with another, yet similar plan: proposition 8, limiting marriage to a man and woman.

In a lower district court, the federal government found it to be unconstitutional, forcing state petitioners to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled proposition 8 unconstitutional because the petitioners were not of “legal standing.”

To have legal standing, petitioners had to be able to show the court “sufficient connection to and harm” from the current laws that allow same-sex marriage in California, according to USlegal.com. According to the U.S. supreme court, petitioners were not legally allowed to challenge California’s same-sex marriage laws.

Carey noted that while same-sex couples would now be able to get married in California, there are still 37 states that do not allow same-sex marriage, including Georgia.

“Now is not the time to be complacent on other LGBT-related issues. While we welcome marriage equality again in California, we know there are couples in 37 states who still lack the ability to get married in their own state and we still live in a world where a married LGBT person can go to work and get fired for who they are or who they love — and there are other issues that impact the lives of LGBT people that the ability to marry doesn’t resolve.”

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She added that the new legislation still lacks any protection for LGBT students and minorities against violence and discrimination in all levels of society.

“Implementation is key,” she said.

The historic ruling comes after another split decision that threw out section four of the Voting Rights Act.

According to the new legislation, states are no longer required to be “pre-cleared” by the federal government before changing their voting laws, leading some to worry that states with a predominant majority of people will make it harder for the lesser minorities to vote.

Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said:

“[The] decision is a setback to our democracy and the voting rights of real Americans. We can’t allow discrimination at the ballot box and must prevent minorities from having their votes purged, packed, gerrymandered, and redistricted away.”

According to the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force, the ruling “will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group.”

Passed by Congress in 1965, section four had been subsequently renewed four times in the decades since.

“No one should be fooled by the Pollyannaish fantasy that voting discrimination no longer exists,” Henderson said. “As the Court acknowledged, voting discrimination still exists and Congress may draft another coverage formula. We urge Congress to act with urgency and on a bipartisan basis to protect voting rights for minorities.”