Federal court strikes down Calif. gay marriage ban

FEDERAL COURT STRIKES DOWN CALIF. GAY MARRIAGE BAN…. In 2008, opponents of marriage equality pushed a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriages in California, following a state Supreme Court ruling that said consenting adults could legally marry, regardless of their sexual orientation. A narrow majority of Golden State voters, tragically, approved the measure.

A year ago, state courts upheld the outcome of the statewide vote. This afternoon, a federal court reached the opposite conclusion.

In a major victory for gay rights advocates, a federal judge on Wednesday struck down a California ban on same-sex marriage, Reuters reported.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn the voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, came in response to a lawsuit brought by two same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco seeking to invalidate the law as an unlawful infringement on the civil rights of gay men and lesbians.

Rachel Slajda has some excerpts from the ruling including this gem: “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.”

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. 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.

The full ruling from Judge Walker, an appointee of President H.W. Bush, is online here.

Note, the case will now go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which tends to be pretty progressive. Many legal experts I’ve spoken to expect the Supreme Court to eventually hear the case.

In the meantime, the decision is heartening. The arc of history is long, but it continues to bend towards justice.