A federal judge overturned California’s gay-marriage ban Wednesday in a landmark case that could eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed.
The ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker touched off a celebration outside the courthouse. Gay couples waved rainbow and American flags and erupted with cheers in the city that has long been a haven for gays.
Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the judge’s decision. “Because a judge had the courage to stand up for the constitution of the United States, prop 8 has been overturned!” the mayor wrote on Twitter.
“This ruling marks a victory for loving, committed couples who want nothing more than the same rights and security as other families,” added Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, minutes after Walker’s ruling was released. “From the start, this has been about basic fairness.”
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Wednesday that the California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, in a case that will almost certainly go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses.” The court, therefore, “orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement.” Two key sentences from the ruling:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. 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.
Update: Good As You has a PDF of the decision.