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Judge strikes down Prop 8, saying there’s no rational reason for gay marriage ban

US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker has ruled that Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure spawned by right wing religious nuts, violates the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

In a 138- page ruling issued yesterday Walker found that there was absolutely no rational basis for California to exclude same-sex couples from the same right to marry that is provided for heterosexual couples. Prop 8, therefore, violates the plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry as well as their right to equal protection of the laws.

Demonstrators protesting California's Proposition 8 outside the Mormon Temple near Manhattan's Lincoln Center in November 2008. (GAY CITY NEWS)

At the conclusion of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger hearing, the judge issued a directive to the clerk to enter judgment against the defendants  in the form of a permanent injunction against the enforcement of Proposition 8. The ruling was immediately stayed for two days until the motion seeking a stay pending appeal is considered. Unless the defendants secure that second stay from Walker or the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, same-sex marriages can resume in California.

The case was filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights on behalf of two same-sex couples eager to marry but denied that right as a result of Prop 8’s passage.

The nub of Walker’s ruling can be found in his one-paragraph conclusion:

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.

He added:

In the absence of a rational basis, what remains of proponents’ case is an inference, amply supported by evidence in the record, that Proposition 8 was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples. Whether that belief is based on moral disapproval of homosexuality, animus towards gays and lesbians or simply a belief that a relationship between a man and a woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women, this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate.

The judge continued:

Moral disapproval is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

There are further damning quotes from the judge – ironically a Republican appointed by former President George H W Bush – in this report:

Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment. Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents.

Protect Marriage, the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored the ban, said it would appeal Walker’s ruling to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Said Jim Campbell, a lawyer on the defence team.

In America, we should uphold and respect the right of people to make policy changes through the democratic process, especially changes that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the founding of this country and beyond.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

45 responses to “Judge strikes down Prop 8, saying there’s no rational reason for gay marriage ban”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Will the Morons be asking for their money back?

  2. Broadsword says:

    That’s a slap in the face for the religiots who must have spent a fortune influencing public support for Proposition 8. These fundies aren’t content to privately follow their creed and let others just get on with their lives. They have to interfere and meddle so I’m glad their money’s been wasted. I liked Judge Walker’s use of the word “rational” in support of his ruling.
    Religiot groups everywhere are becoming more involved in politics at all levels as a means of promoting their bigoted agendas. It’s creatures such as these who were instrumental in Dr Evan Harris’ defeat in the 2010 general election.

    Here’s a pic of various xian b’stards, some perhaps in their true setting, others just for ridicule:
    http://a.imageshack.us/img248/553/ymcad.jpg

  3. stargraves says:

    A right wing judge said all that? Impressive.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Don’t you feel sorry for people with “sincerely held beliefs” when they see their money disappearing down the drain like this? I’m almost in tears here. Oops, no: could be tears of laughter!

    That pic is hilarious, BTW!!

  5. Angelo says:

    Sorry, Jim, bigoted people has NO RIGHT to discriminate LGBT people in the name of THEIR concept of marriage. No one’s making YOU marry a man. YOUR marriage is safely home and dry, and you and your fellows fundamentalists need not “defend” it from anything,since gay marriage doesn’t harm you in any way, only in your prissy bigotry.

  6. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Well said that judge. A damning indictment of the religious opposition to equal rights. Can we get him to come over here to the U.K. and pronounce on our legislation regarding same sex marriage?

    The pic. was wonderful.

  7. Ivan says:

    stargraves said:

    “A right wing judge said all that? Impressive.”

    Even before the judgement was released, realising which way it was going on account of the catastrophic performance of th Prop 8 defenders in court, Pox News yesterday started running stories about Judge Walker’s sexuality in an attempt to discredit the ruling.

  8. barriejohn says:

    The big question to me, as with Segregation, is: Why was it not obvious long ago that the legislation was patently contrary to The Constitution?

  9. Niceleb.com says:

    Kim Kardashian, Ellen DeGeneres Praise Overturning of Prop. 8…

    After a federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8 on Wednesday — which previously denied same-sex couples the right to marry in the say of California — celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Ellen DeGeneres and Paris Hilton flooded the In…

  10. AngieRS says:

    IT ain’t finished yet, apparently. Could take another three years before it actually becomes law, so said an American rights activist on the World Service, if it’s taken all the way to the highest court.

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  12. sailor1031 says:

    Damn those liberal activist judges making up outrageous law to piss off proper-thinking americans. It just ain’t right!!

    Barrie: it was always obvious that banning marriage among certain people is against the 14th amendment. However it was, and is, obvious only to those people here who actually bother to learn about the constitution (especially the bill of rights and other amendments) instead of ignorant pontification (great word that!) misrepresenting the constitution for their own disgraceful purposes.

    However, in addition to law, it seems there often also has to be a cultural shift to make americans accept something like this and that takes quite a long time. This shift is largely done now and this issue can finally be resolved. It’s difficult for me to see how this ruling could be overturned by either the Circuit or Supreme courts. But with the supreme court now having a majority of fascists there’s no telling what the end result would be. That would delay things for several years at least, until a more rational court could strike down a previous SC ruling. Things could also change very much for the better at the state level in the next few years.

    Interesting that because this judge is a republican the fascists expect him to rule their way and try to smear him when he doesn’t. But of course,he was appointed at a time before american politics had reached this ideological impasse where a minority of thugs who control a large population of morons impede progress at any time, at any place, at any level of society.

  13. Dogon says:

    In the seventies hit TV series “All in the family” Archie used to call California …”The land of Fruits and Nuts”…..although a fictitious character Archie was portrayed as a bigot and seemed to represent some segment of the US population….whose face has now been slapped vigorously by three simple words in judge Walker’s ruling….”any rational basis”. These three words are what distinguish the US rednecks from main stream society….the religious cannot abide ….rationality.

    How is it that Holland, Canada, Argentina, Spain and half a dozen other nations accept same sex union as an inherent human right …yet the US ….which boasts it is the land of freedom of choice is stuck in the 18th century on this subject and that of evolution for that matter. It is only religion that holds them back like a ball and chain fastened to their brain stem.

  14. Dogon says:

    In the seventies hit TV series “All in the family” Archie used to call California …”The land of Fruits and Nuts”…..although a fictitious character Archie was portrayed as a bigot and seemed to represent some segment of the US population….whose face has now been slapped vigorously by three simple words in judge Walker’s ruling….”any rational basis”. These three words are what distinguish the US rednecks from main stream society….the religious cannot abide ….rationality.

    How is it that in Holland, Canada, Argentina, Spain and half a dozen other nations accept same sex union as an inherent human right …yet the US ….which boasts it is the land of freedom of choice is stuck in the 18th century on this subject and that of evolution for that matter. It is only religion that holds them back like a ball and chain fastened to their brain stem.

  15. L.Long says:

    This is really great news for the righteous bigots!!
    Now they can blame all the divorces of their g0d blessed marriages on the gays!!! We all know how gay marriage is an abomination and destructive to holey marriage. So they should be supporting gay marriage, I just don’t understand them at all.

  16. Urmensch says:

    Just another sign of the end-times. Not long now before Jesus comes to clean house.
    To all those fundies out there, you’re welcome.

    This is another great pic my sister found.
    http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/8374/popeasthedevil.jpg

  17. Broga says:

    A massively impressive judgement. Not just the decison but the tone and language of the judgement. Religionuts just have to keep interfering and assuming that their way is the only way. To-day, I have been married for 43 years. We married in a Registry Office – shock, horror from some quarters of the families – and others went for the “big church wedding” around they same time. OK, you cannot argue from the specific to the general but for what it is worth one church wedding ended in divorce and utter misery. Another, the same despite preaching to us about “not being properly married”. And a third, neighbours who invited us, were christians who decided that they had been chosen by Jesus. He was a wife beater and they too are divorced.

    Others, also married in church and have stayed married and seem happy.

    I was delighted with the California judgement. Only bigots, religionuts, people with daft ideas from thr bible who seek after imposing inequalities on others object.

  18. Broadsword says:

    @Urmensch

    Cracking pic.
    That’s the first original one I’ve seen of Ratty in a while now.

  19. Buffy says:

    Now my wife and I have twice the reason to celebrate on our upcoming anniversary.

  20. Broadsword says:

    I’d like to thank Harry Webshiter for posting this gem on B3TA.
    Entitled “The A-Team”, as in Atheist.
    http://www.b3tards.com/u/89d630bf52047e8e6ec8/the_a-theist_team.jpg
    It’s part of their image challenge. This time they’re photoshopping the Pope. It’ll be going for a few days yet so keep looking in for new pics:
    http://www.b3ta.com/challenge/pope/

  21. Janstince says:

    Way to go, that guy! The problem I’ve seen with this is that the tenth amendment in the Constitution frequently comes into conflict with the fourteenth, as well as the equal protections and rights clause. The powers to grant citizenship and rights was reserved for the states in the tenth amendment. However, the state are forced to recognize all the rights and privileges granted to citizens of other states. Since this holds for drivers licenses, it holds for marriage. However, the fourteenth amendment automatically grants the rights of citizenship, both federal and state, to anyone born in that state. There are several options, one of which they are pursuing now. They can amend out the equal protection clause, which could effectively lead to very strange behavior between the states, and still would force many states to grant the full privilege of marriage to all per the fourteenth amendment. The route they are taking, however, is to consider repealing the fourteenth amendment. This could allow them to grant certain privileges to certain citizens only, but they will still have to recognize marriages performed in other states (many states have constitutional amendments of their own to prevent this, and I don’t know if they are being challenged, or if not, why), per the equal protection clause. They could try to do both, but that would probably start another civil war, o hasten it along anyway as we seem to be approaching one.

  22. Janstince says:

    Amending my above comment: I forgot that W signed in the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to not recognize marriages in other states that are against the state’s constitution. That is being challenged, IIRC, but it might not be revoked by the likes of Scalia.

  23. Janstince says:

    My bad, it was Clinton. Damn edit not going well for me lately.

  24. DS says:

    I’m sure I’ll be branded as a bigot, or a fundy for this, and I assure you, I am neither of the two.

    But there IS NO LAW IN THIS LAND that prevents homosexuals of any ilk from being married. They just have to marry someone of the opposite sex.

    That being said, I firmly believe that two grown adults who would like to be in a contractual agreement with each other should be allowed to, regardless of sex, or even familiar relationship (for example, from time to time two widowed elderly sisters will move in together to take care of each other). Civil Unions address these issues, and any other issue brought about by the LGBT community.

    But for many, that’s not enough, they want the definition of marriage changed to address their specific want, or their specific view of how things should be. At some points, the argument moves away from the rights of two adults in a financial contract, and into a redefining of a word or procedure.

    If the emphasis was brought away from changing what a marriage is, and instead framed as the rights of two adults who wish to be in a contractual arrangement, you would see a LOT less opposition to the “Gay Marriage” issue.

  25. Broga says:

    DS: Marriage simplifies much when there are children. Including what happens to money and property. Suppose two gay men or two lesbian women want to adopt? And I don’t buy into the suggestion that a child needs parents of the opposite sex. Too many children have that and have had a childhood that was a nightmare of violence. Too many men are very ready to smash their wives around. Maybe this happens in gay partnerships – I don’t know. But I do know the Women’s Refuges are full.

  26. FedupwithR says:

    @Urmensch
    Thank your sister for the hilarious pix!

  27. barriejohn says:

    DS: “Pedant” is the word that you were looking for! You are right, however, and the root of the problem is the fact that to the religious marriage is not a civil partnership, but a “sacred union”. They are quite welcome to view their own relationships in this way if they wish, but they do not have the right to foist their views on the rest of us!

  28. DS says:

    -Broga
    “Marriage simplifies much when there are children. Including what happens to money and property.”

    No argument from me there, which his how Civil Unions come into play.

    “Too many men are very ready to smash their wives around. Maybe this happens in gay partnerships – I don’t know. But I do know the Women’s Refuges are full.”

    Yes, it does, total strawman argument.

    -barriejohn
    ““Pedant” is the word that you were looking for!”

    Yes, and for a good reason. Do you think you would see the same resistance to two adults joining in a legal contract as you do by redefining “Marriage”?

    “You are right, however, and the root of the problem is the fact that to the religious marriage is not a civil partnership, but a “sacred union”. They are quite welcome to view their own relationships in this way if they wish, but they do not have the right to foist their views on the rest of us!”

    Well, you just made an argument for NOT redefining marriage, because why WOULD someone want to be associated with a “sacred union” when that same body that helped to create said “sacred union” generally does not like homosexuals?

    I know you are trying to be snide, but really, you’re making my argument for me. And again, nothing is stopping a man and a woman, regardless of their sexual orientation, from being “married”.

  29. Janstince says:

    DS – As Broga states, civil unions don’t cut it. LGBT people don’t want to change the bullshit religious idea of marriage, or many don’t care about that anyway. It’s the GOVERNMENT idea of marriage that needs to change. Inheritance, adoption, insurance, many places don’t allow the same rights in these areas to civil unions as they do to heterosexual married couples (or even those just posing as such, i.e. Ted Haggard). Your argument about name-changing would be relevant only if equal rights were true, and all legislation were updated to reflect that. As the Supreme Court ruled, “separate is inherently unequal.” Now go suck it.

  30. barriejohn says:

    DS: In what way exactly was I “trying to be snide”? You are correct that a gay man and a lesbian can marry, but it really IS pedantic to point that out, though amusing, as there is no reason that I can see why they would want to! The rest of your argument eludes me, however, as I thought that we were in agreement. Perhaps I didn’t really follow what you were driving at!

  31. Urmensch says:

    DS,
    Marriage has been redefined many times.
    Women are no longer chattel. A husband isn’t exempt from rape charges if he forces his wife to have sex. Men can stay home and mind the children while the wife goes out to work.
    Long before churches intruded upon marriage it was a totally civil matter.
    Ceasing to privilege the rights of heterosexuals is just the latest in a long process of change.

  32. Angela_K says:

    Here in the UK, at the time our Government proposed then allowed civil partnerships for LGBT people, the right-wing Press, fuelled by religious agitators, were screaming how “Gay marriage” would be the end of civilisation. It is the religious who harp on about marriage being a sacred man + woman thing whilst forgetting that it is a civil/legal partnership, but for them some [usually] bloke has to mumble mumbo-jumbo to finish the job. Why on earth any self respecting LGBT person would want to be party to this religious bollocks escapes me. Also, language does evolve over a period of time, so it would seem the word marriage has changed [for some] to be inclusive. The word Gay now also means something that it didn’t use to.

    Everyone should be able to form a civil partnership with who ever they wish to ensure that all enjoy the same rights of inheritance, Tax, property etc But hey, the religious aren’t too good at equality.

  33. barriejohn says:

    I agree, Janstince. No one I know opposes the right of the religious to go through a marriage ceremony, and be given a little piece of paper afterwards, just as they have the right to a baptismal certificate. I am sure, too, that this would be taken as evidence by the courts, for instance, that two people had a serious and stable relationship. But regarding Civil Unions, there should be a level playing field for all. Remember these cases?

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/05/17/austrian-straight-couple-fighting-for-civil-union/

  34. Angelo says:

    And now the homophobes of Proposition 8 complain that Judge Walker had “subverted the popular vote”
    In reality, the referendum on gay marriage should never have been done. Can you imagine a referendum on civil rights of blacks in Georgia or Alabama in the sixties? Or a referendum on voting rights for women? Certain values of equality and justice are not negotiable, and should certainly not be submitted to a vote of a humoral populace easily influenced and conditioned. Otherwise it’ll end up as Jesus and Barabbas vote ended.

    That referendum was accompanied by misleading propaganda, lies, repeating the most trite prejudices about homosexuals and by ravings about the need to “defend marriage” (whose?) from gay marriage. But equal rights in marriage cannot harm in any way heterosexual marriages, and none of those yelling homophobic bigot against gay marriage would be forced to marry a man … as they probably wanted “the people” to believe. No, it wasn’t an honest referendum. It’s only fair and just that the result was overturned. and that Justice and Civil Rights have triumphed over bigotry and prejudice.

  35. Kenny Howse says:

    US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker better watch out! It will be hell fire for him or pit of demons or some other such place administered by Satan! Or maybe nothing at all!

  36. DS says:

    Janstince… Suck what?

    If you paid ANY attention to what I was actually saying, I FULLY BELIEVE THAT CIVIL UNIONS should carry the same rights and privileges as a “marriage”.

    Also, there are MANY laws that are not equal between all genders, ages, and races. But people like to ignore that some people get special protections, and other people are left to twist in the wind. So that’s quite the strawman argument, unless you are arguing that ALL laws that are limited by age, race, or gender need to be changed.

    Urmensch… And they still have the right. But really, again, you are arguing my point. If marriage was a civil matter, that became co-opted by the church, why would you want to redefine what the church took over as theirs, and why wouldn’t you want to go back to it being a civil matter, away from the church?

    barriejohn… I apologize then, I thought you were trying to take the “look how stupid I am” counter-argument. I guess my sarcasm meter was set too high. It’s like how Mr. Ron Bennington argues. Look how many people get divorced. Marriage (for a LARGE percentage of people) sucks. Why would someone want to buy-in to something that many times does not work, when you could be arguing for something better. Something that more people would agree with. And nice article. I’m totally on the couple’s side.

    Angela_K… Same thing as I wrote to Janstince up above. They SHOULD be equal.

  37. Broga says:

    DS. Those capital letters do not help. Particularly as the emphasise often seems less than precise. Are you becoming a little over excited about the issue?

  38. Urmensch says:

    DS,
    I don’t recognise the churches claim that marriage is theirs. Any more than I recognise the moral authority of churches.
    If you say that you believe civil unions should have the same rights as marriage then you are just getting hung up on the word marriage.
    Unless there is something I am not understanding.

  39. Janstince says:

    DS – I do agree that the whole “marriage”-as-a-word argument is rather flawed. However, the entirety of the legal system will have to be rewritten if we use civil union instead, or in addition to marriage. Also, all laws henceforth would have to refer to both equally. As in segregation, I’m just afraid that dog won’t hunt.

    I do apologize for the vitriol. I saw your post and was highly concerned about all your mentioning of “contractual obligation” as being equal to marriage. It’s not, horribly so. Contracts can be declared null and void, even wills, if the states inheritance and care laws supersede the wishes of the individual (this has happened, not just a hypothetical, though I admit I don’t have the time to research it properly at the moment). Also, private business concerns, such as insurance benefits, retirement benefits, etc. are only recognized by marriage, and that’s not entirely up to the government to legislate on.

    So, in other words, if it’s marriage, it’s marriage, regardless of how well the couple does, only if they are heterosexual. If it’s a civil union, those rights aren’t there in many of the most important ways, even if a straight couple got one. If we want to call it something else and give the word to the religious, for whatever reason, fine. However, it has to be the same word for ALL people and it has to have the same rights. Also, we’re gonna need a lot of white-out (corrective fluid, Type-X, or whatever you call it).

  40. Buffy says:

    DS,

    Maybe you need to read the court decision. What you suggest is bigoted. Separate isn’t equal.

  41. barriejohn says:

    Schwarzenegger calls for same-sex weddings to resume:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10900642

  42. barriejohn says:

    New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don’t Love Each Other

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/08/marriage_is_a_union_between_tw.php

  43. DS says:

    Buffy…. There are a LOT of laws that are separate and unequal. Are you arguing that they need to be changed/revoked as well? Again, there’s nothing that stops someone who’s homosexual from marrying. You just cannot marry someone of the same sex.

    Janstince… No prob Janstice… by contractual obligation, I’m breaking down “marriage” to really, what it is. It’s a contractual obligation that can be annulled, broken, and canceled. And when it is, there is a civil legal process required. But I’m also leaving it open to any two grown adults who wish to join in said contract, regardless of lineage (see my elderly sisters example above…). Might it be a more complex process? Yes. But would people be more willing to go along with it if you took away their reason to complain about homosexuals ‘forcing their lifestyle’ (“their” quote, not mine), I believe so.

    Broga… Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about your lack of reading comprehension, and your blind anger and prejudice against someone who is arguing for expanded rights (civil unions for any two adults with the same rights as a marriage), and arguing against shoe-horning new rights into something that was only designed and intended for a specific situation.

  44. Janstince says:

    DS – I think I’m beginning to see where you’re going with this, and no, I don’t think it is quite the same. You’re arguing, if I’m correct, to change all laws that concern marriage to using “civil union” in it’s place. I think that would be great. However, you’ll still be hearing about how “a homosexual household is not a good place to raise a child.” IVF, adoption, etc. will still be withheld, parenting rights can still be ignored, and health decisions can still be circumvented. Why? It’s not about the word so much, IMO. These people arguing for Prop 8 are somewhat hung up on the word. But moreso, they’re hung up on granting equal rights to those they deem inferior. They may even make up another word to give special privileges to them. Or thy may just specify that civil unions of the same sex can’t have the same rights. The outrage on our part isn’t the word, it’s the meaning.

  45. […] District Judge Vaughn Walker recently ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, it was expected that same-sex couples would be able to resume wedding plans soon after, but […]