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Prop. 8 struck down
Judge stays ruling pending appeal, but big guns ask for marriage now
San Francisco--U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker spent almost a quarter of his 136-page ruling picking apart the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the 2008 California constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages, ultimately finding it in violation of the federal constitution�s guarantees of equal rights.
The ruling was handed down on August
That leaves the people behind ProtectMarriage.com/Yes on 8, who were intervenors in the suit on the defendants� side, as the only ones left standing on the anti-marriage end for an appeal.
Vaughn heard arguments in the case in January, then received written answers to further questions in June.
In his ruling,
He also points out that another heavyweight defense witness, political scientist Kenneth Miller, contradicted himself by saying that gay men and lesbian had political power because of some political successes over the last few decades, but wrote in a 2001 book that gays and lesbians were as vulnerable and powerless as other minorities in the initiative process.
Because of these inconsistencies,
In going over the factual findings of
He also noted, �
Walker went on to cite a number of ways that the institution of marriage had changed in just the 160 years that California has been a state: the days when African American slaves could not marry because, as property, they could not consent to marriage, the era of laws barring interracial marriage, the doctrine of coverture, the complete economic subjugation of the wife to her husband, and divisions of labor along gender lines, with women taking care of the home and raising children, and men going out to work.
John Schwartz of the New York Times wrote, �Appeals court judges and the justices at the highest court in the land could find themselves boxed in by the careful logic and structure of Judge Vaughn R. Walker�s opinion.�
�They are supposed to take as true facts found by the district court, unless they are clearly erroneous,� said Northwestern Law School Prof. Andrew Koppelman. �This opinion shows why district courts matter, even though the Supreme Court has the last word.�
University of California-Irvine law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky noted, �His decision does not depend on the higher court finding strict scrutiny� He finds it doesn�t even meet rational basis review.�
Chemerinsky lauded the ruling for its conservatism.
That conservatism is an integral part of Walker�s make-up, despite anti-gay activists bemoaning to the media that Walker is gay and therefore should not have been allowed to decide the case; one assumes they would also ask a divorced judge to step down from the bench of family court, or an African American judge to recuse herself in a case with a black defendant.
their protestations of
A later nomination by Pres. George H.W. Bush succeeded in getting him on the bench.
June public opinion survey in
The case will now go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is unlikely to hear arguments in the case before the new year.