Proposition 8 (2008)

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Proposition 8 was a California State ballot proposition that amended the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It overturned a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 is "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." The entirety of the text to be added to the constitution was: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $35.8 million and $37.6 million, respectively, becoming the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot that day and surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except the presidential contest. The proponents argued for exclusively heterosexual marriage while claiming that failure to change the constitution would require changes to school curriculum and threaten church tax benefits. The opponents argued that eliminating the rights of any Californian and mandating that one group of people be treated differently from everyone else was unfair and wrong.

Effects on transsexual people

The effect of Proposition 8 on transsexual men and women who are married before they transition may be limited, since the marriage was legal at the time it was entered into and there are no current laws that invalidate marriage as a result of a gender transition. For those transsexual people who wish to marry after transition the legal landscape becomes much muddier because the amendment does not define the terms, "man" and "woman." Therefore, a trans woman wishing to marry a man might be prevented from doing so if she is still recognized as male in the eyes of the law and, conversely, a trans man wishing to legally marry a woman may be denied that right. The legal definition of the terms "man" and "woman" will be left to the California legislature and its courts and has not yet been established at the time this article was written.