The president has long said he believes that gay couples should be offered the opportunity for civil unions that provide the same legal protections as marriage but with a different name. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' recent ruling in the challenge to California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in that state, convincingly made the case that such a position is constitutionally unsupportable. Since California already had a domestic partnership law, the court noted, the only effect of Proposition 8 was to deny same-sex couples the designation of "marriage." All of the public policy objections that gay marriage opponents raise (fallacious as they are) disappear in such a circumstance, and the fight then becomes merely about the use of a word. Denying gay couples a designation that is allowed for straight couples "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," the Ninth Circuit ruled. "The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort."