Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP
When California voters quashed the state's court-ordered experiment with same-sex marriage in 2008, gay advocates vowed to fight on. Their latest battleground: a San Francisco courtroom, where a judge will weigh in on the controversial Proposition 8--and hand down the first federal ruling on whether the U.S. Constitution forbids state bans on same-sex marriage.
If California's law is found to violate the 14th Amendment (which guarantees due process and equal protection), it could threaten anti-gay-marriage statutes well beyond the Golden State. Since November, laws supporting same-sex unions have passed in Washington, D.C., but have been defeated in Maine, New Jersey and New York. Whichever way the decision goes, an eventual appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is a virtual certainty.
Note: Nine states appear twice; they allow civil unions or other rights but prohibit same-sex marriages
New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island neither specifically prohibit nor allow same-sex marriages or unions
The D.C. law is pending congressional approval
Courts vs. Voters
If California's stance on gay marriage is settled in a courtroom, it won't be the first state to go that route. In three of the five states that allow such unions, marriage rights were ultimately granted from the bench, not by popular vote or legislation. No state that now sanctions gay marriage has legalized it via referendum.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
6 Allow same-sex marriage
10 Allow same-sex unions or grant other rights
41 Prohibit same-sex marriage
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1953701,00.html#ixzz15IQtnil5