Judge Rules Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

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August 5, 2010
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Federal judge Vaughn Walker issued a highly anticipated decision in the lawsuit  Perry v. Schwarzenegger, declaring Proposition 8 a violation of the federal constitution's promise of equal protection and due process.

In his ruling, the first in a federal trial focused on the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, Judge Walker rejected the arguments of Proposition 8's legal proponents that there was a rational basis for the state to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.

He found that the evidence presented during the 12-day trial in his courtrom showed that "same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents are of equal quality" and that Proposition 8 does not make it more likely that opposite-sex couples will marry and raise children related to both parents.

He also wrote that "Same sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions."

Dismissing the argument of Proposition 8's supporters that same-sex marriages harm heterosexual marriages, Judge Walker held that defenders of the initiative could not identify any factually verifiable way in which allowing gay couples to marry would hurt straight marriages.

Walker said that evidence from the Proposition 8 campaign revealed that the most likely reason for its passage was "a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples."

He added that "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians."

Opponents of same-sex marriage are appealing the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and legal experts anticipate that the case will ultimately reach the United States Supreme Court.

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