California to vote on removing Prop 8 from state constitution

The California State Capitol in Sacramento.
The California State Capitol in Sacramento.
Wikimedia Commons/David Monniaux

California voters will have an opportunity next year to vote on whether to formally remove Proposition 8 from the state’s constitution, giving the Golden State a chance to formally do away with the infamous but now-defunct California policy that barred same-sex marriage in the state in 2008.

The upper house of the California State Legislature on July 13 voted 31-0 to approve a constitutional amendment repealing Proposition 8, though seven of the State Senate’s eight Republicans avoided the vote. The State Assembly already approved it in June. The amendment would strip the state constitution of language saying that the state only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

Prop 8 originally intended to bar same-sex marriage in the state’s Constitution in 2008 based on a state ballot initiative that gained support from 52% of the Californians who voted. By 2010, a federal appeals court ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional, and full, nationwide marriage equality was finally established through a Supreme Court ruling in 2015. 

The renewed focus on marriage equality coincides with fresh concerns about the direction of the Supreme Court, which is led by conservatives and has ruled against abortion rights and LGBTQ rights as of late. After Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito expressed their reservations about the 2015 Obergefell marriage equality ruling, Congress moved to approve the Respect for Marriage Act, which formally repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and protects same-sex and interracial marriages by requiring that states recognize marriages legally performed in states where marriage equality is legal. President Joe Biden signed that bill into law in December of last year.

Many other states have moved to revisit laws on marriage equality to ensure LGBTQ people are protected. New Jersey, for example, passed a law last year protecting same-sex marriage, and a similar effort is underway in Michigan, which banned same-sex marriage in 2004.

The vote on Prop 8 will be on the ballot in November of 2024.