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Proposition 8 Struck Down by Federal Judge

With a veritable tome of a decision

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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 regime."
  • 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: 
Marriage 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.'
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.