Equality wins in Vaughn Walker’s Prop. 8 ruling
Thus, the U.S. district judge found no rational basis for denying this fundamental right to same-sex couples.
Walker said the evidence showed that Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage was “premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples.” Such beliefs are “not a proper basis” to legislate, even when originated by voters, he found.
Even before the ruling, no one expected Walker’s judgment to be the final word. This case is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Still, the strength of the arguments in this ruling has set the bar high for justices who might be inclined to overturn it. He was particularly pointed in unmasking the Prop. 8 proponents’ thin rationalizations of this vestige of discrimination. Walker found the pro-8 side presented “no credible evidence” that same-sex marriage would have any adverse effect on the state’s interests.
The judge pointed to the considerable evidence that the campaign relied heavily on “negative stereotypes” about gays and lesbians – and to parents’ fears that their children would be more likely to become homosexual if such marriages were allowed.
In recent history, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and again, that laws rooted in traditions of bigotry – from segregated schools to prohibitions on interracial marriage – are in basic conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
Also, as Walker noted in his ruling, a state’s obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to mandate its “own moral code.” He cited the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down that state’s sodomy law.
Eighteen thousand same-sex couples were married in California during the brief period it was legal, with no discernable damage to the state or the institution of marriage. Five other states and the District of Columbia now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Societal attitudes are changing, but gays and lesbians should not have to wait any longer to be treated equally under the law.
Judge Walker has forcefully, and convincingly, laid out the case to end this entrenched and unwarranted state discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.