Nightly News | February 07, 2012
>>> now to a closely watched ruling on same-sex marriage in california . specifically on proposition 8 , a voter-approved measure that banned same-sex marriage. well, today a federal appeals court declared prop 8 unconstitutional. but this may be headed for the supreme court . that's where our justice correspondent pete williams is on duty tonight. pete, good evening.
>> brian, this ruling is a decisive win for advocates of same-sex marriage, but the way it's worded could make it less likely the supreme court would use this case to decide the case of gay marriage nationwide.
>> the marriage ban is unconstitutional!
>> reporter: supporters cheered today's decision by a pam of three federal judge , declaring that proposition 8 , passed by california voters in 2 o008 to ban gay marriage is unstubl. the court said because california 's separate domestic partnership law already gave same-sex couples the same legal rights that married couples have, all prop petition 8 did was take away from gay couples the legal right to get marriage licenses . they could still adopt, raise children, get spousal benefits, all the privileges of marriage, just not the term. prop 8, the court said today, serves no purpose, has no effect other than tolessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians . the ruling said the u.s. constitution does not permit that kind of discrimination.
>> what the court did today affirms that you can not single out one group of people and deny them the dignity and respect which all citizens deserve.
>> reporter: the decision relies heavily on what happened in california where the right of same-sex marriage was granted starting in 2008 , then taken away by prop 8. the immediate affect of the ruling applies only in that state. the court explicitly said it was not deciding the larger question over whether the constitution allows any state to ban gay marriage . the backers say they'll appeal. they want to get the issue before the supreme court .
>> some cases are so big that the magnitude of the issues says to the supreme court , it would be good to take this case and resolve this up front, rather than allow the issue to percolate for a long period of time.
>> reporter: while the prop 8 backers decide their next move, the ban on gay marriage in california remains in effect. if the justices decide to take it up, they probably wouldn't hear it until next year. brian?
>> pete williams , thanks. overseas to