Hip hip horray for the gays in California. This is unbelievable news! Yesterday, a federal judge ruled “that a voter initiative banning same-sex marriage in California violated the Constitution’s equal protection and due process rights clauses.” It took five months, but finally the 9th Circuit District Court Judge Vaughn Walker gave a 136-page decision in the case and firmly rejected Proposition 8, which was passed by voters in November 2008 reports the Huffington Post.
“Although Proposition 8 fails to possess even a rational basis, the evidence presented at trial shows that gays and lesbians are the type of minority strict scrutiny was designed to protect,” Walker ruled. “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.”
This is an unbelievable step forward and true reason to celebrate. This is the first judgement to be offered by a federal court with respect to laws banning gay marriage at the state level. Also, it promises to have massive reverberations across the political and judicial landscape not unlike New York’s decision to honor gay marriages earlier this year.
Marriages can’t continue legally immediately in California however; the decision has been stayed until August 6 to consider arguments regarding an appeal. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated “today’s decision is by no means California’s first milestone, nor our last, on America’s road to equality and freedom for all people.” In deciding the case, Walker offered a variety of findings that may be as important as the ruling itself. See them below.
- “Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents’ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.”
- “Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.”
- “Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.”
- “Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.”
- “Same-sex couples receive the same tangible and intangible benefits from marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.”
- “The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.”
- “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.”
What an amazing day for the fight for equal rights. Pop some bottles California, you deserve it! For more on this story, visit The Huffington Post.