Same sex couples may not go to the courthouse in California as of tomorrow to apply for a marriage license. Opponents won a request a stay to prevent this.
A San Francisco federal judge today struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, concluding that it tramples on the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples and setting the stage for an appeal that appears destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.
A supporter of same-sex marriage calls the case “earth-shattering”, considering Judge Vaughn Walker is considered not to be from the liberal camp.
The judges message is: Same sex parents can care for children the same way as natural parents.
In a highly anticipated decision with potentially far-reaching implications in the national battle over gay marriage, a federal judge has struck down California’s Proposition 8.
U.S. district judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down the ballot measure as unconstitutional under both equal protection and due process clauses in a 136-page opinion, nearly seven months after an unprecedented trial over gay marriage began in his San Francisco courtroom.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote.
“Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional,” Walker wrote.
Legal sources said it’s not yet clear whether Walker’s decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger will immediately nullify the ballot measure — and therefore restore the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
Lead attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who brought the case last year on behalf of a gay male couple in Burbank and a lesbian couple in Berkeley who were denied marriage licenses, are expected to speak about the ruling shortly, outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco.
The legal team and plaintiffs Kristin Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami, and Jeff Zarrillo are scheduled to attend a public event Wednesday evening in West Hollywood (gay rights activists have planned multiple Wednesday rallies, both in California and elsewhere in the country: Click here for a list of events).
Legal observers had widely expected Walker to rule Prop. 8 unconstitutional, though an ultimate favorable decision by the U.S. Supreme Court remains uncertain, should the court eventually take the case.
Anti-gay-marriage forces, perhaps already sensing defeat at the district level, had filed a motion on Tuesday to stay the ruling pending appeal to the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit — a rare premature maneuver, legal experts said.
“Absent a stay, same-sex marriages could begin taking place immediately after the Court issues its judgment,” attorney Charles J. Cooper wrote in a letter to Walker. “As we explain in our stay motion, another purported window of same-sex marriage in California would cause irreparable harm.”
The Olson-Boies legal team immediately opposed the motion in a Wednesday morning letter to the court, and eventually were granted a stay, so this case will go to the next stage, most likely ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court in two years or so.