Judge Vaughn Walker tossed the infamously bigoted "Prop 8" this afternoon, California's constitutional amendment that reversed a previous finding by the California Supreme Court that banning same sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional.
The state Supreme Court originally ruled that same sex couples had a right to marry under the state constitution. Prop 8 reversed that by amending the state constitution to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman.
Or in the case of many Prop 8 supporters and same-sex marriage opponents, one man and several women, just not at all at the same time. Unless you're a moron.
Judge Walker found that Prop 8 violated the U. S. Constitution, which isn't going to be so easy to rewrite.
I think this was largely expected. No court to my knowledge has ever found that same sex marriage bans are consistent with the U. S. Constitution. On their face, they would seem to violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses and reek of miscegenation laws banning blacks and whites from marrying.
Prop 8 was so heinous that the state of California refused to defend it, forcing the court to hysterically allow a random group of the law's private supporters to defend it in place of the Attorney General, who believes the law is unconstitutional.
It appears he was correct.
There will be appeals of course, but I wouldn't count on them finding much traction. Judge Walker has garnered a reputation in recent years for writing iron clad opinions designed to be appeals-proof.
I can't help but wonder how much better off this country would have been in the future, had President Obama chosen such a solid and intelligent justice as Walker, instead of a blank slate that leans heavily to the right when it comes to government power, in Kagan.
Walker sits firmly on the side of the Constitution, having already found the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping program (that spied on Americans) illegal, and now protecting the minorities civil rights from the tyranny of the majority.
: From the ruling: "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."
Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic is reading the ruling (136 pages...ouch) and Tweeting the good parts. Thus far:
Pro-Prop 8 activist Don "Blankenhorn's testimony constitutes inadmissible opinion testimonythat should be given essentially no weight."
Walker: "Eliminating gender and race restrictions in marriage has not deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality"
Walker: "Same-sex love and intimacy are well-documented in human history."
Walker: " Proponents' assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence"
Walker: "Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union"
Here's an interesting closing thought. If Prop 8 supporters give up right now, same-sex marriage will be legal in California but that's it. It ends there. If they appeal all the way to the Supreme Court a lose, same-sex marriage becomes legal everywhere, because of precedent. If supporters aren't sure they are going to win, they could be killing their own bigoted cause forever.
: To further the point above after mentioning this fact to my mother, that particular sword does not cut both ways. If Prop 8 supporters take it to the Supreme Court and lose, all bans everywhere will get tossed as a matter of precedent, in the same way all same-sex only sodomy bans were wiped out in Lawrence v. Texas. However, if opponents lose at the Supreme Court, the only precedent set is that bans are legal. They can still be repealed later.
: Twitter, I have found, is a great source for immediate reaction references. From Markos, "RT @davidbadash: GOP strategist Mary Matalin: 'This isn't a civil rights issue.' Here it comes... #prop8 #p2", and this: "RT @GottaLaff: An hour after Prop 8 ruling, Fox calls Judge Walker biased because he's "openly gay" http://bit.ly/bG363b"
And of course this: "RT @Will_Bunch: Amazing background on #prop8 judge http://bit.ly/dhnEve Gay libertarian 1st picked by Reagan in '87 but blocked by Dems"
Don't forget, the first round of this case was won by Bush administration Solicitor General, Ted Olson (he lost his wife on 9/11) and
Ken Star, who persecuted Bill Clinton David Boise.
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