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Proposition 8 Overturned

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Proposition 8 has been overturned by California federal district judge Vaughn Walker in a long, 130-page decision. Proposition 8 was enacted in California two years ago by popular vote, defining marriage as specifically being between one man and one woman. The new law was immediately challenged by two same-sex couples in federal court. It marks the the first time a federal judge has ruled on the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans.

Ruling that the California law violates equal protection under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment, the district judge has moved this test case a step closer to possible eventual consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The case will likely go to appeal, and the coalition of religious and conservative groups had yesterday filed a brief asking Walker to stay the decision should he rule to overturn Prop 8. They argued that if decision is ultimately overturned ceremonies performed during this time would be invalidated, according to the group. However, Walker agreed to the stay for only a few days while the issue is studied.

In his ruling, Walker asserted that Proposition 8 enshrines within California’s state constitution the superiority of heterosexual couples over same-sex couples. This would violate the equal protection guarantees under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Yeah.. Liberals weren’t the only ones who opposes proposition 8… well said Steve!

  • Steve, it wasn’t only liberals who opposed Proposition 8, and not only conservatives who supported it.

  • Steve67

    Well liberals, you got what you want; a court that will place their agenda over the will of the people. Don’t go crying to conservatives when it comes back to bite you in the a$$ and something you voted for is overturned because some activist judge has an agenda. And to those who are actually buying the lies that this judge is liberatarian. Please if you knew anything about liberatarianism you would know that if he were liberatarian he would not unilaterally overturn something that had received a majority vote by the people. Savor this victory because it’s only a matter time before you’re the one saying WTF??

  • Cannonshop

    You don’t have to be gay to get gay-married, after all, plenty of gay people end up in straight marraiges, it’s just a matter of takign advantage of tax-law! (Yet another reason to be in favour of it-help that young single, liberal dude pay more in income taxes as preparation for the rest of his life…)

    Okay, I think I’ve worn the joke out.

    Seriously, though, if we are to take the concepts of the Constitution seriously, including the Amendments, then we must insist that anything treated as a “Right” or privelage available to all, be, in fact, available to all-including Marriage. Judicially, I think this ruling is very consistent with a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and by that standard, it is a morally consistent ruling (unlike some federal rulings, aka Kelo vs. New Haven or the judge in Colorado who’s just taking notes from the Party’s agenda to write rulings right now…)

    Philosophically, anything that cock-blocks any attempt to limit freedoms, (Even freedoms one may find icky) is fundamentally good. If I have to tolerate the code-pinkers or Fred Phelps gang, then the nattering nanny-staters will just have to tolerate my friends who don’t like girls getting hitched to each other.

    (for those who’re confused: Religious Right is just as nanny-state as Radical Left, and in my eyes they are equally odious in their eagerness to limit freedoms that others may enjoy, and often are hypocritical in that desire to limit freedoms as well.)

  • In a country with a 50+% divorce rate, and the ability to get married to a complete stranger by an Elvis impersonator, there are NO logical, moral, or legal arguments that stand up against gay marriage.

    A great day for America, freedom, and civil rights.

  • zingzing

    good on you, cannonshop (although you might want to figure out the difference between gay and liberal at some point in the future). baronius, i don’t see it written that it’s a human right to piss on each other, but you seem to be quite happy to claim it. dirty boy.

  • Cannonshop

    #7 Baronius, I’d take that as a wider definition than you-I think it’s fine to let people marry whomever they want, marry the car, marry another dude, your dog, It does not, and should not matter. The only reason it ends up mattering, is that the State has involved itself-which I believe is where the mission-creep we see in the state involving itself in your finances, personal life, businesses, what you drink, what you smoke, what you eat, is wrong.

    If anything, the most potent argument against Gay Divorce comes from stoppering up civil courts with the proceedings.

    Which I think is fine. I think gays should have the right to divorce one another just like everyone else-in fact, I think they ought to HAVE to divorce one another when their relationships go south, just like everyone else. I think it would be peachy-keen if Handy or Jordan had to worry about some dude’s credit rating before they shack up, and if they got nailed by “Community Property” divorce law-because if the suffering is spread far enough, maybe states will have to reform that tangled mess. (also, it would be amusing to see how a court might rule in a divorce-with-kids situation where there isn’t just ONE mother to award the kid to no matter how unfit… it might inject some sanity into the system if the social-workers have to actually demonstrate good judgement for a change, instead of following policy guidelines formulated in 1919…)

    Beyond all that, though, there is the fourteenth amendment. If “I” have a right to do a thing, “EVERYONE” has the right to do that thing…including getting hitched and getting divorced. Limit freedom for one citizen (who’s not committed a felony) you limit freedoms for ALL citizens.

  • Doc, re Comment #11 — it might be roundabout in the sense that he may have uttered it while standing in a traffic circle, but substantively it seems pretty clear.

    He says,

    [T]his decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. 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. . . . Today’s decision is by no means California’s first milestone, nor our last, on America’s road to equality and freedom for all people.(Emphasis added.)

    Seems pretty clear to me.


  • Gov, Schwarzenegger’s statement is the most roundabout way of saying “No comment” I think I’ve ever seen.

  • Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown distanced themselves from the case almost as soon as it was filed, leaving the defense to the [mostly] religious-right groups who had campaigned for Prop 8 originally. They did a pretty lackluster job in court, perhaps knowing that the Supremes will ultimately decide this one anyway.

    The governor’s assessment of Judge Walker’s decision was echoed by several legal commentators yesterday. Walker’s 80 “findings of fact” make a strong case that future appellate judges will have to take into account.

    Boies and Olson both expressed hopes that the decision will help remove the issue from a strict left/right liberal/conservative polarity of opinion. If it really can be seen as a matter of liberty, equality, civil rights, it should no longer belong exclusively to the left.

    People under 50 are much more likely to be accepting of gay marriage, and gay rights in general, than people over 50. This is true even of Republicans under 50.

  • Here is an interesting article written from the daughter of lesbian parents.

    A somewhat unique perspective on this issue. I am surprised the children of gay parents are not more vocal….

  • Here is my attempt at a legal analysis of the decision. The subject is obviously controversial, and some of the defendants will appeal.

    However, Governor Schwarzenegger — the principal named defendant in the suit — has stated:

    Judge Walker had the great responsibility of deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of the United States. He heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings. We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision.

    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. 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.

    Today’s decision is by no means California’s first milestone, nor our last, on America’s road to equality and freedom for all people.

    It does not appear that the governor is likely to do much to help the appellants.


  • Baronius

    Cannon, I don’t know anything from the Greek or Roman traditions that says that marriage is a right. Certainly, the medievals didn’t consider it a natural right. I did a quick search on it from John Locke, and couldn’t find it as a natural right there either. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that “men and women” have the right to marry, and as it’s the only time that phrase is used, we can assume it means that a man and woman have the right to marry each other. Otherwise, I just don’t see marriage as a right.

  • Cannonshop

    I find myself somewhat surprised that:

    1. it’s worth Federal Court time

    2. That the outcome of a federal ruling would be so unpredictable that it would even make the news-if one presupposes that homosexuality is genetic, and that “Marraige” is a right, then it follows that homosexual marraige can not be refused by law. Since the scientific evidence at this point indicates homosexuality is genetic, and legal tradition indicates Marraige as a right, the only logical outcome of a hearing in Federal Court would be to overturn Prop. 8, the only surprise being that it took this long. Barring evidence to the contrary, the court has no option BUT to overturn it.

    Regardless of emotional arguments to the contrary.

    The entire issue points up the idiocy inherent in the State sanctioning Marraige as somehow not an ordinary contract, but something ‘special’ with special status assigned to it.

  • In just a few days, Mrs R and I will celebrate 35 years of domestic wedded bliss. We both have known many gay people over our lives, beginning with a kid I grew up with who always displayed feminine behaviors and continuing up to the present day with a co-worker of Mrs R who is a married gay man.

    The proponents of Prop 8 cannot define for me how my 35-year marriage is threatened in any way by allowing gays to share in the rights and privileges of marriage. My children had gay schoolmates, and never thought anything was wrong about it even if it wasn’t their lifestyle. Are they smarter than the proponents of Prop 8?

    We’ll see.

  • Of couse Walker might be expressing his libertarian views that people should do whatever they want with limited government interference 🙂

  • This is wonderful news.

    Unsurprisingly, Fox News has been inserting the factoid that the judge in the case is gay every chance they get, implying that the ruling was predictable and less meaningful because of this [unconfirmed] info. And some have suggested he should recuse himself. [He was appointed by Reagan and is reported to be a ‘right of center libertarian.’]

    Another case is also likely headed for the Supremes, and could even get there first. Massachusetts same-sex, legally married couples are suing to be recognized by the federal government for tax and other purposes.

  • Arch Conservative

    I’m more interested in Missouri’s Prop C which passed overwelmingly last night.

  • doug m

    If both sides plan to anyway, they should agree to skip right to US Supreme Court.