Prop. 8 Appeals Court Ruling: Inside the Dissenting Opinion

Same-sex marriage advocates rejoiced today as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision that Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot initiative banning gay marriage, is unconstitutional.

The decision is almost certainly destined for appeal and a likely ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, today's ruling was not an unalloyed victory for gay-rights advocates: One judge on the three-judge panel that upheld Walker's decision authored a 39-page decision dissenting from the majority.

The dissent by Judge N. Randy Smith could provide some insight into the arguments in favor of Prop. 8's constitutionality that the Supreme Court might seriously consider. UC Hastings College of the Law professor Evan Lee says there were three major issues on which Smith, a conservative, disagreed with the famously liberal Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who authored the majority opinion:

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