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The February 7, 2012 decision by a federal appeals court to declare unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8, a successful ballot measure which banned same-sex marriage in 2008, is an important victory for human rights.

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision, finding Proposition 8 “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.” The court also  ruled that the lower court judge who issued the ruling, Chief US Judge Vaughn Walker, was not biased in his decision, an argument advanced by Proposition 8 supporters after Walker retired and publicly revealed he was in a long-term same-sex relationship.

Human Rights Watch believes the decision respects the dignity of same-sex couples and their right to enjoy the government-sanctioned benefits and privileges of opposite-sex couples. 

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