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Prop 8: California's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

5 years ago
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A federal judge in California has struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying Proposition 8, passed by voters two years ago, is unconstitutional.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision on Prop 8 is hardly the final word in the matter. Both sides had said they would appeal the ruling if it wasn't in their favor. The case would go first to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and eventually to the Supreme Court, if the justices agreed to review it.

Walker wrote that the law "fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."

"Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment," he noted. "Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."

To read Walker's complete ruling click here.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the judicial process, saying "all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings."

"For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity."

The nation's largest gay rights group, The Human Rights Campaign, hailed the judge's decision.

"After hearing extensive evidence in support of marriage equality, and essentially no defense of the discrimination wrought by Prop 8, Judge Walker reached the same conclusion we have always known to be true -- the Constitution's protections are for all Americans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a news release. "We thank the courageous plaintiff couples, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies for their tremendous efforts leading to today's decision and their ongoing commitment as the case moves forward on appeal."

Olson and Boies argued the plaintiffs case -- 10 years after they were on opposite sides of the Supreme Court battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore over the Florida presidential vote recount.

Prop 8's sponsors filed papers Tuesday in anticipation of losing. They asked Walker, if he were to rule against them, to leave the ban intact while they appeal.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger is the first federal court case to determine if states can prohibit gays from getting married without violating the constitutional guarantee of equality. The lawsuit, brought by two same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco, claimed that Prop 8 infringes the civil rights of gay men and lesbians.

Proposition 8 was approved by 52 percent of voters in November 2008. The ballot measure followed the state Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage five months earlier. Supporters said Prop 8 was necessary to safeguard traditional marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing. Opponents said that such concerns were not sufficient grounds to discriminate against gay couples.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Walker, 66, is openly gay. But the Republican appointee has drawn criticism from gay activists for representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in a trademark lawsuit two decades ago against the Gay Olympics.

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I don't think that religion should be in this debate at all. There is a reason for the separation of Church and State. Especially when there are other religions that exist besides Christianity. Personally, I am Christian, yet I have no qualms nor animosity towards homosexuals. In fact, a few of my close friends are gay, and who am I to tell them that they cannot love who they want?

August 06 2010 at 2:30 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

This is bad no matter what side of the debate you are on. Even those who are claiming victory should do so with shame. The process was done where signatures were collected and an issue put on an election ballot. The people in CA voted on this ban. What is happening now, which is happening more and more in our country, is that 1 judge with his own agenda can deny a vote of the people. While the gays in CA jump around excited, they should also realize the ongoing precedent that is being set. That the vote of the people is no longer valid, that judges may overturn the minority. That goes against everything that our democracy is structured on. I am wondering how these same people would feel if people started finding active conservative judges who are willing to write law how they think it should be like the liberal judges do, and file lawsuits to overturn elections. I think the Supreme Court should overturn this ruling for that reason alone. ONE Judge should not have the right to overturn a vote by the majority of the people. I hope someday this practice comes back to haunt all these people in a real way.

August 05 2010 at 2:13 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dtroftking's comment
Bo Brandy

Being gay/lesbian is not a choice. Do you choose to be straight? It is who the person is. Love is Love and how can that be wrong in anyones eyes or mind. If you have two people that love each other and are aware of who they are then where is that a sin? Equal rights should be given to everyone not just a select few. Everyone should have the right to marriage and happiness. The right to provide insurance to the person you love and to be able to do it without criticism. The fight on gay rights is valid and should be recognized. The haters out there might as well put on white robes and hoods and set our lawns on fire. ITs the same thing!

August 05 2010 at 2:00 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Dear Old Craze

That's Great! Power To The People!!

August 05 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

The act of homosexuality is a sin and it is in the Christian Bible old and new testament. It also violates the laws of nature as there is no product of such a union physically. But there are allot of other things that are in the Bible considered sins. Not only that, God sees them all the same. Murder, theft, lying, etc... it is all the same to God, and He dislikes them all equally. We as Christians have no right to judge who commit the sins but we have the right to speak out against sin. Are any of us perfect? No. But through Bible study, we try to be more like Christ everyday. This ruling does not supersede the 10th Amendment on states rights. If the people(who ultimately dictate to the state and the federal government) do not wish to allow legal same sex marriage so be it. A judge has not he right to mandate that it be accepted legally, fiscally, or morally.

August 05 2010 at 1:01 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Mortamus's comment

Those who support homosexuals to marry, must be aware that there is God's laws and man's laws. Only God's laws will get you into heaven. The Bible have not been amendmented to allow homosexuals to marry, as the US Constitution has.

August 05 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to steve's comment


Perhaps not all believe in your heaven, or your God...? I do believe in the Holy Spirit..but it sure is not the one I see being represented here.

So if someone does not believe in your beliefs.. why does that make them wrong? It doesn't. Why should they HAVE to follow by your rules? They should not. There are many beliefs and practices in this world. Weather you believe your's are the absolute right or not, does not make that fact. Respecting ALL, Loving ALL, should be on the top of the list.. "Above ALL else is Love". Now I wonder who said that?

August 13 2010 at 6:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the proponents of the illegal measure including those of the Catholic faith and others to be educated about the fact that the bible doesn't mention anything about Gays or Lesbian being considered, as a form of adultery. In fact the bible only mentions those who have an affair while being married as a form of adultery. And the fact that proponents are just plain engaging in senseless bigotry against everybody, not just against Gays and Lesbians. Now, we can enter a new milestone in history when everybody can finally learn that Gays and Lesbians are equally entitled to rights most of us usually have. I applaud the judge for accepting the fact that the Proposition 8 is an illegally conceived measure created by ignorant and selfish people who are clueless as well as bigots. We can end bigotry against gays and lesbians, and that the selfish Vatican would be wise enough to do their research on the bible to get the clear concept that Gays and Lesbians are human beings like the rest of us and we should treat them with sincere respect and dignity. We do not have the right, nor does the Vatican have the right to control Gays and Lesbians' action out of faith and responsibility. The Church does not have the power to enforce the laws nor do they have the right to create ignorant laws out of oppressing others.

August 05 2010 at 12:59 AM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply

Hey could one of you "legal beagles" explain this to me. Under what Constitutional power does a Federal judge has to determine the constitutionality of law? Especially a State's law. Isn't that for the Federal and/or States' Surpreme Courts to decide? And, if a Federal judge has this right, wouldn't this extend to the State and County courts?

August 05 2010 at 12:53 AM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Clue's comment

It is unconstitutional for a majority of people, even if that majority is 2% over 50%, to take away a group of peoples fundamental Constitutional rights. This judge was stating this in his ruling.

August 13 2010 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe I missed something. I thought we were a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. I thought we were a nation where a vote of the majority counted. This has been voted on by the good people of California and the majority have spoken and their vote must count.

August 05 2010 at 12:52 AM Report abuse +30 rate up rate down Reply

I don't think lawyers and judges understand. The Constitution is the People, not a bunch of laywers getting rich on inturpritation. The U.S.A. has turned over their lives to a bunch of Things I can't name corectly (lawyers).

August 05 2010 at 12:49 AM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply

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