"Proposition 8 cannot survive any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause," Judge Walker wrote in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. "Excluding same-sex marriage couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest."
Walker's decision spurred widespread praise and discussion. A sampling of comments follows:
In a first step toward a historic Supreme Court test, a federal judge on Wednesday struck down California's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that so-called "Proposition 8" - approved by the state's voters in November 2008 - violated two clauses of the federal Constitution.
The judge, in finding a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of legal equality, concluded that California could not justify treating committed couples differently solely because they were of the same sex. He applied the lowest constitutional test - ‘rational basis' - to this differing treatment. He also ruled that Proposition 8 violated rights that are protected by the Due Process Clause.
The National LGBT Bar Association congratulated the American Foundation for Equal Rights and lead attorneys Theodore Olson and David Bois for the "historic victory." The National LGBT Bar Association will conduct a conference call tomorrow, August 5, at 3 p.m., EST to discuss the ruling.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the organization that successfully represented gay couples challenging DOMA in Gill et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al., lauded the Perry decision, saying it "reminds us that the freedom to marry is a long-established right belonging to all Americans, including gay and lesbian Americans."
Lambda Legal's Jennifer C. Pizer issued a statement providing legal analysis of Perry and thoughts on the road ahead for proponents of marriage equality. Pizer, the group's National Marriage Project Director, in part, said:
This thorough review of both sides' evidence vindicates the rights of LGBT people not only to marry based on love and commitment, as heterosexuals do, but to be treated equally and fairly by their government more generally. Just as past marriage victories laid the foundation for today's important win, the court's preparation of a detailed record for the Court of Appeals provides a potent tool for other legal cases and the many, ongoing educational campaigns. It doubtless will help more people see that anti-gay discrimination in marriage is destructive and unjustifiable.
After hearing extensive evidence in support of marriage equality, and essentially no defense of the discrimination wrought by Prop 8, Judge Walker reached the same conclusion we have always known to be true - the Constitution's protections are for all Americans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Today's decision affirms that the law cannot treat people differently based on their sexual orientation and that a majority cannot strip a minority group of its fundamental freedoms at the ballot box. Judge Walker ruled that there truly is no substance to the arguments of those who would deny equality to same-sex couples. This is another landmark victory for same-sex couples and their families who simply want the dignity and security of having the same freedom to marry as others, as well as for all Americans who believe in our nation's bedrock principle of fairness. We are thrilled that the court has upheld the rights of liberty and equality enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' overturning the marriage laws of 45 states. As with abortion, the Supreme Court's involvement would only make the issue more volatile. It's time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box.