Proposition 8 overturned; next stop, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Just moments ago, the Judge Vaughn Walker of the  US District Court for the Northern District of California overturned Proposition 8, declaring it unconstitutional.  And, predictably per their promise, the legal team defending Prop 8 has sought a stay pending appeal.  

In court papers filed Tuesday night, lawyers for the Proposition 8 defense team asked Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker for a stay of his ruling if the outcome is to declare the law unconstitutional. The motion indicates that the Proposition 8 lawyers will immediately ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling if Walker rules against them.

To many watchers, Judge Vaughn’s ruling came as no surprise due to his management of the trial, leading some to go so far as to call it a “show trial.”

Yesterday, liberal California Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued an unprecedented ruling that will put the trial involving a challenge to the Prop. 8 same-sex marriage ban on YouTube.

The Ruling

The conclusions of law section states that

Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Judge goes on to find that individual’s right to marry as a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment, as determined by

(1) the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States; and (2) whether plaintiffs seek to exercise their right to marry or seek to exercise some other right.

Among characteristics Judge Walker finds relevant to marriage is consent between two people, but he dismisses Proposition 8 supporters argument that marriage is rooted in procreation, stating that sexual intercourse and procreation has never been a prerequisite to a marriage license.  He also dispensed with the arguments of supporters tied to how marriage has been traditionally seen in the United States.

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed.

And, apparently, in his eyes, so has passed the time for traditional marriage as the monopoly of heterosexual couples.

The ruling can be found here.  Read it, and please share your thoughts with me.


Reaction was swift and emotional, from both sides of the debate.  On twitter, fans and foes alike rushed to gush their emotional reactions (in 140 characters or less):

  • @plaidspolitics said: How many judges does it take to screw over a million people? (Or millions or people?) #prop8
  • @elforesto noted: It ain’t over until the SCOTUS declines to hear an appeal or makes a ruling.#prop8 #winthebattlelosethewar
  • @scottstringerbp cheered: Today’s decision is a watershed moment in the fight for marriage equality and the ongoing LGBTQ rights movement. #prop8
  • @KimKardashian articulated: Prop 8 was struck down! This news is amazing!!!! Its about time! Congrats to everyone!
  • @musikologie woke from a nap and: woke up from a nap to see the *fantastic* #prop8 news. it’s one of those days that makes me love america.
  • and let’s not forget @dedanna1029 who wished the #1 a happy birthday, too: Happy Birthday #President@BarackObama#prop8 was overturned completely in California today!! W00t!

So, welcome to the internet, and welcome to free speech.  It’s America, whether you like the ruling or not.

Oh, and by the way, a stay was issued, so no marriages will be performed, yet.


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