Late Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Vaughn Walker ruled
controversial California Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage,
unconstitutional. In a complex and multifaceted decision
--delving into, among other things, the efficacy of same-sex child rearing--Walker concludes that "Proposition 8 was
premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as
opposite-sex couples." That "is not a proper basis for legislation."
Because Proposition 8 defenders can't produce a "rational basis" for
their belief, showing California has an "interest in discriminating
against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents
California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide
marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is
unconstitutional." A sample of the reaction thus far:
- This Looks Solid Scanning quickly, lawyer Gabriel Malor
writes at Ace of Spades HQ that "as I expected, Judge Walker made
extensive factual findings that will insulate his decision on review."
Also important, notes Malor, is that "this isn't just an equal
protection challenge, but also a due process case. The judge found for
the plaintiffs on both claims. In other words, he's saying that there
is a constitutional right to gay marriage and also a constitutional
right for gays not to be discriminated against in a state marriage
- Judge Was in Tough Position, comments Jesse Finfrock
at Mother Jones, after being outed by the San Francisco Chronicle in
February. Writes Finfrock before the ruling, "while his sexual
orientation does not matter from a legal perspective, it does put the
Judge in a tough position politically and personally, wherein no matter
how he rules he appears biased, insensitive, or both." The Atlantic's Josh Green points out that the judge is also, as far as politicians are concerned, Republican: "Walker's nomination by Ronald Reagan was thwarted by Democrats--led
by the current House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi--who believed he was
prejudiced against homosexuals." He was then reappointed and confirmed under George H. W. Bush.
- We Were
Expecting This "The decision from Judge Vaughn Walker is no surprise
if you watched his show trial antics over the last several months,"
writes a seemingly highly displeased Michelle Malkin.
- And Now to the Supreme Court "Everyone expects this case to end up on the Supreme Court," writes Cornell law professor William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection.
- The Important Facts in This Decision The "FACTS that Walker has determined from the testimony and evidence," writes Marc Ambinder, "will serve as the grounding for the legal arguments yet to come." Among the crucial determined facts Ambinder highlights:
is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only
when requested by the intervenors ... California, like every other
state, doesn't require that couples wanting to marry be able to
procreate ... Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women
were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized;
no fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages. ... 'Same-sex
couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics
relevant to the ability to form successful marital union.'
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