Today concludes the U.S. district case of Perry v. Schwarzanegger, which
challenges Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative banning gay
marriage in California. The trial, which is expected to be appealed to
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals--and possibly the Supreme Court--no
matter the decision, was considered by
many gay rights activists
to be too risky. Advocates on both sides
are watching today's closing arguments very carefully. Here's what's
happened so far, what could happen next, and what it means.
Is Bigger Than Just California The Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler explains,
"At stake is not only the legality of Proposition 8, the 2008
California ballot initiative that established the ban, but potentially
the broader rights of gays and lesbians under the equal-protection
clause of the U.S. Constitution. ... Judge Walker could tailor his
decision to California law, or take a broader tack that addresses
federal law vis-a-vis gay marriage."
- What Ruling Could Mean for Gay Rights Time's Michael Lindenberger
writes, "No ruling is expected today, but already Chief Judge Vaughn
Walker, a Republican appointee who is also gay, has tipped his hand at
least this much: he's determined to issue a ruling that will be as
reversal-proof as possible. ... a ruling by Walker in favor of the two
gay couples could pave the way for the legalization of gay marriage
throughout the country — or it could have a much more limited impact.
Walker could rule against Prop 8, for instance, even without giving gay
marriage especially strong constitutional protections. He could simply
say that the ballot initiative was simply too arbitrary in taking back
rights that the California Supreme Court had already granted to gay
- Prop-8 Lawyer Urging All Gay Marriages
Annulled The San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko reports, "the ban's
sponsors are urging the judge to go a step further and revoke state
recognition of the marriages of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed
before voters passed Proposition 8. Such an order would honor 'the
expressed will of the people,' backers of the November 2008 ballot
- Parenting 'Should Be Nonissue' in Case An L.A. Times editorial
explains, "The objective of the lawyers arguing for Proposition 8
before Judge Vaughn R. Walker is to show that voters had rational
reasons for approving it rather than being motivated by bigotry. And a
key reason, one of the lawyers said, is that children fare best when
raised by a married couple of opposite genders. The premise itself is
dubious. ... The premise also is irrelevant. Just as we wouldn't propose
taking marriage away from heterosexual couples even though their
children might not do as well as those of lesbians, there is nothing
reasonable about denying marriage to same-sex couples based on judgments
about child-rearing or anything else concerning the perceived quality
of their marriages."
- Another Ballot Initiative in 2012?
The Atlantic's Chris Good speculates, "No
gay-marriage ballot measures have qualified for California's November
2010 ballot; if the case fails, it is plausible that the diverse
community of upstart California gay-rights activists, established
California groups, and DC-based gay-rights juggernauts (e.g., the Human
Rights Campaign) would move forward with a ballot measure in 2012, the
year that more careful gay-rights activists have favored since 2008, due
to the bigger, younger, and possibly more liberal turnout of a
presidential election year."
- Persuading Anti-Gay Marriage
Voters Is Long Battle San Francisco alt-weekly Beyond Chron's Paul Hogarth writes, "a new
study conducted by the Haas Jr. Foundation looks at pre-election
polling data from 33 states that passed anti-gay marriage initiatives.
It concludes (a) we always do worse than what polls say, and (b) voters
don’t change their minds about this issue during campaigns. The lesson,
of course, is that we must work harder to move hearts and minds – and
that work can’t be done in a short election season."
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