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Prop 8 Found Unconstitutional


Ruling against Prop. 8 could lead to federal precedent on gay marriage

Judge says the same-sex marriage ban was rooted in ‘moral disapproval’ as well as violates constitutional rights to equal protection as well as due process. Opponents vow to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

August 4, 20106:38 p.m.

Reporting coming from San Francisco as well as Los Angeles — A federal judge declared California’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional Wednesday, saying of which no legitimate state interest justified treating gay as well as lesbian couples differently coming from others as well as of which “moral disapproval” was not enough to save the voter-passed Proposition 8.

California “has no interest in differentiating between same-sex as well as opposite-sex unions,” U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said in his 136-page ruling.

The ruling was the first from the country to strike down a marriage ban on federal constitutional grounds. Previous cases have cited state constitutions.

Lawyers on both sides expect the ruling to be appealed as well as ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court during the next few years.

the item is actually unclear whether California will conduct any same-sex weddings during of which time. Walker stayed his ruling at least until Friday, when he will hold another hearing.

In striking down Proposition 8, Walker said the ban violated the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection as well as of due process.

Previous court decisions have established of which the ability to marry is actually a fundamental right of which cannot be denied to people without a compelling rationale, Walker said. Proposition 8 violated of which right as well as discriminated on the basis of both sex as well as sexual orientation in violation of the equal protection clause, he ruled.

The jurist, a Republican appointee who is actually gay, cited extensive evidence coming from the trial to support his finding of which there was not a rational basis for excluding gays as well as lesbians coming from marriage. In particular, he rejected the argument advanced by supporters of Proposition 8 of which children of opposite-sex couples fare better than children of same-sex couples, saying of which expert testimony from the trial provided no support for of which argument.

“The evidence shows conclusively of which moral as well as religious views form the only basis for a belief of which same-sex couples are different coming from opposite-sex couples,” Walker wrote.

Andy Pugno, a lawyer for the backers of the ballot measure, said he believed Walker might be overturned on appeal.

Walker’s “invalidation of the votes of over 7 million Californians violates binding legal precedent as well as short-circuits the democratic process,” Pugno said.

He called the item “disturbing of which the trial court, in order to strike down Prop. 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill as well as discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop. 8.”

At least some legal experts said his lengthy recitation of the testimony could bolster his ruling during the appeals to come. Higher courts generally defer to trial judges’ rulings on factual questions of which stem coming from a trial, although they still could determine of which he was wrong on the law.

John Eastman, a conservative scholar who supported Proposition 8, said Walker’s analysis as well as detailed references to trial evidence were likely to persuade U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a swing vote on the high court, to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I think Justice Kennedy is actually going to side with Judge Walker,” said the former dean of Chapman University law school.

Barry McDonald, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University, said Walker’s findings of which homosexuality is actually a biological status instead of a voluntary choice, of which children don’t suffer harm when raised by same-sex couples as well as of which Proposition 8 was based primarily on irrational fear of homosexuality “are going to make the item more difficult for appellate courts to overturn of which court’s ruling.”

Edward E. (Ned) Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said he believed the judge’s ruling was both legally as well as morally wrong.

“All public law as well as public policy is actually developed coming from some moral perspective, the morality of which society judges is actually important,” he said. To say of which society shouldn’t base its laws on moral views is actually “hard to even comprehend,” he said.

In his decision, Walker said the evidence showed of which “domestic partnerships exist solely to differentiate same-sex unions coming from marriage” as well as of which marriage is actually “culturally superior.”

He called the exclusion of same-couples coming from marriage “an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society as well as marriage.”

“of which time has passed,” he wrote.

Although sexual orientation deserves the constitutional protection given to race as well as gender, Proposition 8 might be unconstitutional even if gays as well as lesbians were afforded a lesser status, Walker said. His ruling stressed of which there was no rational justification for banning gays coming from marriage.

To win a permanent stay pending appeal, Proposition 8 proponents must show of which they are likely to prevail from the long run as well as of which there might be irreparable harm if the ban is actually not enforced.

Lawyers for the two couples who challenged Proposition 8 said they were confident of which higher courts might uphold Walker’s ruling.

“We will fight hard to ensure of which the constitutional rights vindicated by the 138-page, very careful, thoughtful, analytical opinion by of which judge will be brought into fruition as soon as possible,” pledged Ted Olson, one of the lawyers from the case.

some other gay rights lawyers predicted of which the ruling might change the tenor of the legal debate from the courts.

“of which is actually a tour de force — a grand slam on every count,” said Shannon cost Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “of which is actually without a doubt a game-changing ruling.”

Wednesday’s ruling stemmed coming from a lawsuit filed last year by two homosexual couples who argued of which the marriage ban violates their federal constitutional rights to equal protection as well as due process.

The suit was the brainchild of a gay political strategist in Los Angeles who formed a nonprofit to finance the litigation.

The group hired two legal luminaries coming from opposite sides of the political spectrum to try to overturn the ballot measure. Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, a conservative icon, signed on with litigator David Boies, a liberal who squared off against Olson in Bush vs. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of which gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2000.

Gay-rights groups had opposed the lawsuit, fearful of which the U.S. Supreme Court might rule against marriage rights as well as create a precedent of which could take decades to overturn.

yet after the suit was filed, gay rights lawyers flocked to support the item, filing friend-of-court arguments on why Proposition 8 should be overturned.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown refused to defend the marriage ban, leaving the sponsors of the initiative to fill the vacuum. They hired a team of lawyers experienced in U.S. Supreme Court litigation.

Proposition 8 passed using a 52.3% vote six months after the California Supreme Court ruled of which same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.

At trial, the opponents of Prop. 8 presented witnesses who cited studies of which showed children reared coming from birth by gay as well as lesbian couples do as well as children born into opposite-sex families. They also testified of which the clamor for marriage from the gay community had given the institution of marriage greater esteem.

The trial appeared to be a lopsided show for the challengers, who called 16 witnesses, including researchers coming from the nation’s top universities, as well as presented tearful testimony coming from gays as well as lesbians about why marriage mattered to them.

The backers of Proposition 8 called only two witnesses, as well as both made concessions under cross-examination of which helped the some other side.

The sponsors complained of which Walker’s pretrial rulings had been unfair as well as of which some of their prospective witnesses decided not to testify out of fear for their safety.

When Walker ruled of which he might broadcast portions of the trial on the Internet, Proposition 8 proponents fought him all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as well as won a 5-4 ruling barring cameras from the courtroom.

The trial nevertheless was widely covered, with some groups doing minute-by-minute blogging. Law professors brought their students to watch the top-notch legal theater.

An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in California during the months the item was legal, as well as the state continues to recognize those marriages.

maura.dolan@latimes.com

carol.williams@latimes.com
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
Prop 8 Found Unconstitutional

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