Moments ago, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, passed by California voters in November 2008, which prohibited same-sex couples from marrying in the sate. Walker found that the Prop 8 undermined both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, arguing that “[e]ach 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: “
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite- sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no 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.
Last night, anticipating Judge Walker’s decision, lawyers for the Proposition 8 defense team asked Walker to “for a stay of his ruling if the outcome is to declare the law unconstitutional.” Walker issued an emergency stay of the judgment and will decide later if an indefinite stay is in order.
The ruling is now expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Walker on the evolution of 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.”
,Walker on why domestic partnerships are not equal to marriage: “A domestic partnership is not a marriage; while domestic partnerships offer same-sex couples almost all of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage, the evidence shows that the withholding of the designation ‘marriage’ significantly disadvantages plaintiffs. The record reflects that marriage is a culturally superior status compared to a domestic partnership. California does not meet its due process obligation to allow plaintiffs to marry by offering them a substitute and inferior institution that denies marriage to same- sex couples.”
,Walker argues that because marriage is a fundamental right, it should be subject to ‘strict scrutiny’: “Because plaintiffs seek to exercise their fundamental right to marry, their claim is subject to strict scrutiny. Zablocki, 434 US at 388. That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as “fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.””[upd