As I write this column, news just is breaking that on August 4, San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled unconstitutional California’s ballot initiative Proposition 8 denying marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The full conclusion by Walker—which you will have read by the time this issue is on the stands, but which gives me great pleasure to quote—reads: “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.”
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the ruling “affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves.”
In addition, Schwarzenegger noted that Walker had “heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection, and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings.”
Schwartznegger then went on to caution, “We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision.”
Down the road, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remarked, “Because a judge had the courage to stand up for the Constitution of the United States, Prop 8 has been overturned!”
According to reports, opposing lawyers had filed a motion to stay the judge’s ruling pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals before the decision was released. Clearly, the issue will be fought all the way to the US Supreme Court.
In July 2008, I attended the joyful First Annual Marriage Celebration Palm Springs. It was also the last. The window that opened May 15, 2008, was shuttered in the November elections that fall by the passage of Proposition 8.
It’s time for a second Marriage Celebration. But forces are working—and will continue to do so—to keep GLBT individuals from the enjoyment of and rights to legal marriage. This time, it is crucial that proponents of equal-marriage rights remain vigilant—and proactive.
August 4 opened a second window. Keep the light shining in.