In An Historic Decision, Ninth Circuit Declares California’s Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

February 9, 2012

On February 7, 2012, in an historic decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  The Court reasoned that "[t]he People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry."  At bottom, "Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."  Gibson Dunn’s efforts were led by Theodore B. Olson and Theodore J. Boutrous, JrChristopher D. Dusseault, Matthew D. McGill, Theane Evangelis Kapur, Amir C. Tayrani, Enrique A. Monagas, and Joshua S. Lipshutz worked on the appeal.  Many other Gibson Dunn attorneys and staff from the San Francisco, Los Angeles and D.C. offices also worked on the trial, which led to this historic decision.  More information about the case can be found at the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ website,  

On March 3, 2012, "8", a play written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and based on the trial, is set to have its West Coast premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, for an exclusive, one-night-only fundraiser to benefit AFER.  The West Coast premiere will feature an all-star cast, including Academy Award-winning actor, producer, screenwriter and director George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Martin Sheen; and be directed by AFER Founding Board Member and acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner.  To learn more, please visit