Your guide to Proposition 3: Affirming gay marriage in California's Constitution

two interlocking wedding rings in red and blue
(Los Angeles Times)

California remains a national leader on LGBTQ+ rights, but a line in the state Constitution still defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

That's because language voters passed as part of Proposition 8 in 2008 remains on the books even though courts have deemed it unenforceable and federal law protects the right to same-sex marriage.

Proposition 3 gives voters a chance to repeal the outdated clause and instead enshrine marriage as a "fundamental right" for all.

Why is this on the ballot?

Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) authored legislation asking voters to remove and replace the Proposition 8 definition, calling it "discriminatory and unconstitutional."

The measure comes amid Democrats' distrust of the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Advocates of Proposition 3 point to a concurring opinion by conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the 2022 case overturning of Roe vs. Wade, which provided a right to abortion. Thomas wrote then that the nation's highest court should reconsider rulings that rely on similar legal reasoning as in the landmark abortion case, including those that protect same-sex marriage and access to contraception.

A legislative analysis of the bill said that "courts can change" and pointed out that the current Supreme Court no longer includes two of the justices who supported the 2015 landmark ruling that protects an equal right to marriage.

"It is true that marriage equality is still currently the law in the United States; however, it is not impossible that this will not always remain the case," the analysis said.

Who are the supporters?

Gov. Gavin Newsom is promoting the measure, along with Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond — both Democratic candidates for governor in 2026.

The American Civil Liberties Union and LGBTQ+ rights groups including Equality California and Human Rights Campaign also support the measure, as does the California Democratic Party.

Who are the opponents?

Religious conservative groups oppose the measure. While Republicans did not vote "no" on the measure during floor votes in the state Capitol, many abstained from voting on it at all.

The California Family Council, a conservative policy organization that opposes gay marriage, says that the broader definition of marriage under Proposition 3 could lead to the legalization of polygamy and the erosion of what they say is “the optimal family environment."

How much money has been raised?

Past coverage

Read more: Newsom urges California voters to protect same-sex marriage amid Supreme Court distrust

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.