By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In a ruling that few found surprising, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is openly homosexual, has ruled that California’s voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, popularly known as Proposition 8, is unconstitutional.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” said Judge Walker in his 136-page decision. “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.”
Walker attributed the case against same-sex marriage to be one of personal morality, saying that “The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples.”
Walker agreed to postpone the ruling from taking effect until Friday in order to hear arguments on whether a stay should be granted until the conclusion of the appeals process. If he decides to allow the ruling to take effect, same-sex marriage will once again be allowed in a state where a majority of the citizens voted against the measure several times in the past few years.
Proponents of same-sex marriage are praising the ruling, including President Barack Obama. Even though he said during his 2008 campaign that he opposes gay marriage, the White House issued a statement from him saying that he “has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans.”
Attorneys for ProtectMarriage.com, the organization that gathered the signatures to place Proposition 8 on the ballot, said Wednesday they would appeal the decision.
“In America, we should respect and uphold the right of a free people to make policy choices through the democratic process – especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the foundation of the country and beyond,” Brian Raum, an Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel, told the Washington Times.
Advocates of traditional marriage are calling the ruling an assault on democracy that could create the same bitter divisions over marriage that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling ignited over abortion.
“This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the Roe v. Wade of same-sex ‘marriage,’ overturning the marriage laws of 45 states,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “As with abortion, the Supreme Court’s involvement would only make the issue more volatile. It’s time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box.”
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said “Judge Walker’s decision goes far beyond homosexual ‘marriage’ to strike at the heart of our representative democracy.”
Opponents of same-sex marriage using the ruling as evidence of the dangers of allowing activist judges on the bench. Both the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle have reported that Judge Walker’s homosexuality is an “open secret” in California gay and legal circles. This prompted University of Notre Dame law professor Gerard V. Bradley to tell the Times that Walker’s actions during the trial were “bizarre,” and that he should have recused himself, because “(as several newspapers have reported) the judge is openly gay.”
Some of Walker’s more bizarre antics during the proceedings included a decision to allow cameras into the courtroom, which had a chilling effect on witnesses in favor of Proposition 8 who were immediately targeted by homosexual activists. The Supreme Court eventually had to interven and ban the cameras.
But Walker’s ruling is only one hurdle among many that must be overcome in a legal battle that could rage for another two years. Attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies, who represented the gay couples filing the suit, say they plan to move as quickly as possible to see that Walker’s ruling is enacted.
“We are going to fight hard so that the opinion of this judge will be brought to fruition for the people of California as soon as possible,” Mr. Olson said at a post-ruling press conference. “We will say to the 9th Circuit that if there is any delay at all it should be exceedingly short.”
If the ruling is enacted, California will become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire, plus the District of Columbia. Maine approved same-sex marriage in 2009, but it was overturned by the voters in a referendum election a few months later.
Thus far, voters have never approved same-sex marriage in any state that allowed them to vote on the issue. In every state where same-sex marriage is legal, it was accomplished through some form of legislative or judicial activism.
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