May 16, 2008

Will the California Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Opinion Lead to a Lawsuit Seeking Punitive Damages?

This is not an idle question. After the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage in 2003, there was an effort to overturn that decision by amending the state constitution through the referendum process. The Legislature blocked the effort to put the measure on the ballot for submission to the voters. Individual members of the Legislature were then sued by voters seeking, among other remedies, punitive damages.

It does seem likely that there will be numerous legal challenges to the ballot efforts already underway to seek an amendment to California's constitution to essentially overrule the Supreme Court's opinion. We will, of course, monitor those challenges to see if any involve claims for punitive damages.