LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Southland supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage will focus their attention tomorrow on the U.S. Supreme Court as it hears arguments on Proposition 8, California's voter-approved measure restricting marriages to unions between a man and a woman.
Proposition 8 was enacted by voters in 2008 but was deemed unconstitutional last year by a federal appeals court panel, which found the initiative was at odds with U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue Tuesday, with a decision likely by June.
Dozens of same-sex marriage supporters held a candlelight vigil outside Los Angeles City Hall Sunday night in advance of the arguments.
The Rev. Susan Russell from All Saints Church in Pasadena, which helped organize the vigil, said the marriage issue is about "the power of God's inclusive love."
"And it is a deep honor to stand with those around the country who are stepping up and speaking out to end discrimination against LGBT people and their families and take another step closer to making liberty and justice for all really mean 'all."'
More vigils are scheduled for Tuesday night outside Long Beach City Hall and at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana.
Opponents of same-sex marriage will also be watching the proceedings closely.
Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com and an opponent of same-sex marriage, said the U.S. Supreme Court's review of Prop 8 goes beyond the issue of marriage.
"This case is as much about the survival of our Republic as it is about natural marriage between a man and a woman," Thomasson said. "We are a constitutional government that abides by written laws and their original meanings. A republic under the thumb of judges who act like kings has ceased to be a republic.
"The unchanging laws of nature require two distinct sexes for humans -- male and female," he said. "... In contrast, homosexual behavior is neither natural nor healthy, and doesn't qualify for marriage, which requires one man and one woman, no more, no less."
In March 2000, California voters approved Prop. 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May of 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Prop. 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. The approval was followed by statewide protests and lawsuits challenging Prop. 8's legality.
In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8, but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 prior to its passage would remain valid.
Same-sex marriage supporters took their case to federal court, and U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that Proposition 8 "both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."