Judge strikes down Proposition 8, rules that gay marriage ban isunconstitutional
Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Northern District Court of California has ruled that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that struck down gay marriage in California in November 2008, is unconstitutional.
An appeal is expected by the backers of the bill, which was previously upheld in state court.
In his decision, Walker stated that 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 Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
The bill's defenders filed a motion even before the decision for the judge to issue a stay preventing gay marriages in the state while the case was appealed. However Walker's ruling explicitly states that the ban should not proceed and that gay marriages should be allowed immediately:
Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8....
California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result. California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.
It is not clear, however, if a higher court will issue a stay on the proceedings.