Why was the decision by California to recognize same-sex marriages such a controversial issue of federalism

The 2008 decision by the California State Supreme Court to permit same-sex couples to marry in that state was an exercise of states rights, in the face of a federal government which had many years earlier prohibited itself from recognizing same-sex marriages and given other states the right to ignore them as well.

A better example of an issue of federalism occurred afterwards, when a public referendum led to the amendment of the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court of the State of California later ruled that the referendum was unconstitutional and the amendment invalid. However, that decision was appealed in federal court, leading some to scratch their heads and wonder why the federal government would be involved in reviewing a state’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in its own territory when legal precedence shows that marriage laws are not a federal issue. In some respects, this seems to be a violation of California’s right to control its own marriage laws.

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