George: Gay marriage ruling 'weighed most heavily'

Chris Rizo May 19, 2008, 10:32am

Ronald George

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)- Chief Justice Ronald George says the California Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage was one of the toughest decisions he's made while on the high court.

George, a moderate Republican, said more than any other case in his 17 years on the court, the 4-3 ruling issued Thursday that also extended anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians "weighed most heavily" on him.

The 68-year-old justice said as he read arguments in the case he thought about traveling with his immigrant parents to the South, where he saw signs "No Negro" or "No colored."

The experience left "quite an indelible impression on me," George told The Los Angeles Times.

The court's rules bar George from discussing the ruling until it takes effect in 30 days or more.

George told the newspaper that when writing the majority opinion, he pored over every word in every draft, and every word change had to be approved by the other three justices joining him in the majority.

"We determine that ... the designation of marriage to a union 'between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples," George wrote in the final decision.

He said the case's oral argument marked the "highest point" for the court, and he was "so glad" the session was televised.

"I was incredibly proud of how we acquitted ourselves in such a difficult and well publicized case," he was quoted as saying.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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