California's same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional; appeal expected

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment," wrote U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R Walker. "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."

US judge Vaughn R Walker
Image: Mike Linksvayer.

Proposition 8, which was passed by California voters by referendum in November 2008, banned same-sex marriage in the state, which had been legal after a California supreme court ruling on May 15, 2008. The proposition's passage did not reverse the marriages of thousands of same-sex couples who had gotten married in the state in the interval.

The case, Perry et al. v. Schwarzenegger et al., was heard by Chief Judge Walker. Anticipating a defeat, the pro-Proposition 8 coalition of "defendant-intervenors" filed this morning a "motion for stay pending appeal", asking the court for its ruling to not take effect unless the decision is upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; both sides in the case say an appeal is inevitable.

Speaking for LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, Jennifer C. Pizer said, "In holding that Prop 8 cannot stand because it violates the equal protection and due process rights of California’s lesbian and gay couples, this decision adds to the growing consensus in courts and legislatures across the country that there are no good reasons for excluding same-sex couples from marriage." Courtenay Semel, an actress and LGBT activist, told Wikinews "today marks another day in history! A big win for equal marriage. It's about time that progress is being made towards equality for all."



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