Proposition 8: federal judge overturns California gay marriage ban
Proposition 8, the 2008 California ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Supporters of Proposition 8 say they will appeal the decision.
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The ruling, which will certainly be appealed, follows a closely watched trial on the constitutionality of the state's prohibition of same-sex marriage that many expect will eventually be decided in the US Supreme Court. A decision there would result in a landmark ruling on one of the most contentious social issues of our time.
Lawyers who defended Proposition 8 have already filed a request with the court to keep the state's gay marriage ban in place until an appeal can be heard.
The case challenging the proposition, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, was brought by two unmarried gay couples who argued the ban violated their right to due process under the law and the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed.
"The evidence shows that Prop. 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution, the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples,” Judge Walker wrote in his 130-page decision. “Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians and because Prop. 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes the Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.”
Response on both sides has been swift and vocal.
"This decision affirms that in America, we don't treat people differently because of their sexual orientation," said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, in a statement. "We rejoice at today's decision but there's a long road ahead toward establishing true marriage equality for same-sex couples."
But opponents of same-sex marriage hold the opposite view.
“We will certainly appeal this disappointing decision,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Brian Raum, who represents the official proponents of Proposition 8, in a statement. “Its impact could be devastating to marriage and the democratic process."
“The majority of California voters simply wished to preserve the historic definition of marriage. The other side’s attack upon their good will and motives is lamentable and preposterous,” Mr. Raum said. “Imagine what would happen if every state constitutional amendment could be eliminated by small groups of wealthy activists who malign the intent of the people. It would no longer be America, but a tyranny of elitists.”