U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker today struck down California’s Proposition 8– a voter-driven referendum, which confirming that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.
Walker wrote in his 136-page decision on Perry v. Schwarzenegger that Prop 8 was “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses,” referring to the 14th Amendment.
“It’s not just marriage that was put on trial,” said Daniel Blomerg, attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, “but the fundamental freedom of having your vote count and having the liberty to express and live by your religious beliefs. It’s pretty shocking.”
Anticipating an unfavorable ruling, the Proposition 8 legal defense team filed Tuesday night a motion with Judge Walker, which said, “A stay is essential to averting the harms that would flow from another purported window of same-sex marriage in California.”
The decision will not go into effect if a “stay” – referring to a suspension or postponement of a legal action – is granted, either by Judge Walker or by the 9th Circuit, while the appeals process is sorted out.
In his decision, Walker wrote:
“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 evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples. The evidence fatally undermines any purported state interest in treating couples differently; thus, these interests do not provide a rational basis supporting Proposition 8.
. . . .
“Moral disapproval alone 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.
. . .
“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.”
Court watchers were not surprised with today’s ruling.
Ron Prentice, volunteer chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, said in a statement:
“Today’s ruling is clearly a disappointment. The judge’s invalidation of the votes of over seven million Californians violates binding legal precedent and short-circuits the democratic process. But, this is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage, as we now begin an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Prop 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop 8.
“But the reality is that Prop 8 was simply about restoring and strengthening the traditional definition of marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman, for the benefit of children, families and society.
“At trial we built a solid record to show that marriage has served as the foundation of the family and society as a whole, has universal functions and features attributable only to unions between a man and woman, has been defined in both law and language as a union between a man and a woman, and acts as the predominate relationship in which to create and support children.
“We are confident that the trial court record we built will help us ultimately prevail on appeal and reverse today’s ruling.
“Reversing today’s decision will also serve as a reminder that the role of the courts is to interpret and apply the law only as enacted by the people and their elected representatives, not to impose new social policies.
“And federal precedent is clear that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage. To prevail in the end, our opponents have a very difficult task of convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to abandon precedent and invent a new constitutional right.”
“What’s really chilling about this decision,” said Blomberg, “is the way the plaintiffs and the judge directly attacked the faith of millions of Americans. They presented doctrinal beliefs about marriage as evidence of bigotry, as unreasonableness.
“They have gone to great lengths to underscore the religious beliefs of the people who campaigned for Prop 8,” said Prentice. “It is hardly remarkable that religious beliefs and religious people are involved in the political process. It is part of our Constitutional tradition, from the American Revolution to the abolitionist and civil rights movements.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read CitizenLink’s statement, “Prop 8 Decision Not the Last Word.”
Read Constitutional attorney Ed Whelan’s thoughts on today’s ruling, “Judge Walker’s Opinion.”
Read Ed Whelan’s July 12 NRO blog, “Judge Walker’s Anti-Prop 8 Sham Trial.”