Thursday, August 05, 2010

Federal judge strikes down California's anti-gay Proposition 8

Surely by now you've heard the great news:

Saying that it discriminates against gay men and women, a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, handing supporters of such unions at least a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday's decision is just the latest chapter in what is expected to be a long battle over the ban — Proposition 8, which was passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. Indeed, while striking down Proposition 8, the decision will not immediately lead to any new same-sex marriages being performed in California. Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, immediately stayed his own decision, pending appeals by proponents of Proposition 8, who seem confident that higher courts would hear and favor their position.

But on Wednesday the winds seemed to be at the back of those who feel that marriage is not, as the voters of California and many other states have said, solely the province of a man and a woman.

"Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause," wrote Judge Walker. "Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest."

Those of you familiar with this blog will know that we are staunch supporters of same-sex marriage, and we write about it frequently. All I'll add here -- as I have very little time to blog tonight, with work demanding my attention -- is that this is a huge step in the right direction that, in the end, may not mean much at all, given that the Supreme Court, with its current 4-4-1 divide, will undoubtedly end up ruling on the (un)constitutionality of Prop 8.

Still, there is good reason to celebrate, and we should not let this victory mean nothing -- instead, we should build on it, and keep fighting, riding the momentum to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage not just in California but across the land, as it is here in Canada, and for the full recognition of gays and lesbians as equal citizens with the same rights as everyone else.

As I tweeted a while ago: "With Prop 8 overturned and Muslim comm. center near Ground Zero going ahead, these are good days for liberty and the liberals who defend it."

Stay tuned for more from us on this issue, as on so many others. In the meantime, make sure to check out the reaction over at Memeorandum.

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