I think it’s clear from my post yesterday that I am a fan of the prop 8 ruling yesterday (read the ruling here). I firmly believe that ALL citizens of this country are protected by the Constitution and should be treated equally under the law. Gay citizens have as much right to the benefits of marriage that the state provides as opposite marriage people. To deny them those benefits is to make them, by law, second-class citizens. It is the fourteenth amendment (yes, that amendment) that guarantees these civil rights. And since it is in the Constitution, we, the majority, are not allowed to vote to deny those rights. Congress is not allowed to pass legislation to deny those rights. The courts of this country are supposed to protect those rights, to monitor legislation, and to make sure that the majority is not denying rights to the minority simply because they are the minority. That is what happened yesterday.
In case you are interested, section 1 of the 14th amendment says this:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [via]
And now I am going to post reactions (with some minor-ish commentary) to the Prop 8 decision in no real order. Just stuff from all over the interwebs today.
- Shakesville’s “More Equal”
- Flicker stream of photos from Prop 8 Parade in San Fran [NEW]
- Fox News: Lawyer Battling Prop 8 Says Ruling Not ‘Activism’, Forecasts Supreme Court Fight” [NEW]
- Fox News’ unscientific poll shows that people who have visited its site think Prop 8 IS unconstitutional. Say what? [NEW]
- Sac Bee: Schwarzenegger wants gay marriages in CA to start NOW! [NEW]
- Washington Post: “Impact of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Weighed” [NEW]
- Huffington Post: “Tony Perkins: Prop. 8 Judge Should Have Recused Himself Because of His Sexuality” [NEW]
- “Proposition 8 and the Normality Fallacy”
- The Daily Show
- The Cato Institute (Libertarian Think Tank)
- Mediaite: “Cable News Takes On Proposition 8 Ruling In California In Very Different Ways”, including Sarah Palin’s response
- New York Daily News: “Judge Vaughn Walker’s sexual orientation sparks ire over fairness on Prop 8, same-sex marriage case”
- Rachel Maddow
- Slate’s “Brilliant Ruling”
- Los Angeles Times: “Prop 8: You’re Not Helping Mr. President”
- Huffington Post: “Prop 8 Ruling Exposes Democrats’ Weak Support For LGBT Community”
- Salon: “Proposition 8 and S.B. 1070: Sisters under the skin?”
- Washington Post: “The Prop 8 decision: look at the evidence”
- Color Lines: “A Simple, Historic Statement”
- NPR’s Morning Edition: “Will Gay Marriage Ruling Survive Appeal?”
- The White House’s statement on Prop 8 (via The Advocate)
- New York Times opinion piece: “Marriage is a Constitutional Right”
- The Pie Chart
- Democracy Now’s show
- The take of a “Gay Conservative”
- US Catholics think the Prop 8 ruling is a misuse of law
- Fox News opinion piece
- San Fran DA Kamala Harris’ statement
- Daily Best: “Bigotry Takes a Hit”
- Statement from GLAAD
- Blah Blah Ginger (blog)
- San Francisco Chronicles‘ report
- USA Today‘s Faith & Reason blog: “Prop 8 judge to religious believers: It’s not about you”
- Dallas Morning News: “Mark Davis: Prop 8 judge substitutes his will for voters’”
- Color Lines piece: “Marriage Equality without Borders: Prop 8 and Immigration”
- NPR piece, titled “National Review: ‘Prop 8′ Conclusion Is Problematic”
- Links to other blogs
First, of course, is Shakesville: “More Equal”
This voice added to the chorus of other conservatives who accused the judge of “extreme judicial activism” and “judicial tyranny” in finding that the ban on same-sex marriage in California denied gays and lesbians equal protection under the law and due process, and that the proponents of the ban could not make the case for the ban on fact.
This is the kind of reaction that I expected from the anti-gay-marriage contingent if the court had ruled the way it did. They are not responding at all to the ruling itself and the facts that were presented when both sides had their chance to make their case. The proponents of the ban were given ample opportunity to prove that same-sex marriage is bad for California or harms straight people. Beyond voicing disapproval of gay people in general and basically saying that they’re icky, the proponents could not cite a single case in which it could prove that granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples was harmful and therefore the state had the right to single them out for exclusion. […]
Since they cannot make the case based on fact, they are going for the emotional and bigoted approach, claiming that gays and lesbians want “special rights.” Brian Brown, another spokesperson for NOM, told Kathryn Lopez of the National Review: “You know what real equality is? One man with one woman, that’s equality.” Gays and lesbians are not, in his view, equal to straight citizens under the Constitution of the United States.
One of the commenters to Shakesville said this in response to Brown’s equality quote:
What? That doesn’t even mean anything. I can play that game too:
You know what real justice is? One baseball cap and one can of soup, that’s justice.
You know what real freedom is? One book and one glass of beer, that’s freedom.
You know what real bullshit is? Wingnuts attempting to defend bigotry in the face of cold hard fact, that’s bullshit.
Oh, wait, oops, that last one actually does make sense. I guess I’m not as good at this as Mr. Brown.
“It’s not judicial activism when judges do what the Constitution requires them to do and they follow the precedent of previous decisions of the Supreme Court,” he said. “This is what judges are expected to do.”
Seems so simple…
In an extraordinary court filing, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Friday that gay marriages be allowed to resume immediately in California after a federal ruling that the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
The Republican governor filed his brief with U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker before a Friday deadline to submit arguments on whether to continue a stay of Walker’s decision against Proposition 8.
“The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the Court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California,” wrote Kenneth C. Mennemeier, an attorney representing Schwarzenegger, in the brief. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect.”
The Post asked policy advocates and political experts for their views on the fallout from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling last week overturning California’s Proposition 8. Below, responses from Joe Mathews, Maggie Gallagher, Douglas E. Schoen, Lea Brilmayer, Jarrett T. Barrios and Ed Rogers.
Little bits from each:
From Joe Matthews:
The second possible backlash has to do with California and its direct democracy. Perhaps the spectacle of a federal judge overruling such a momentous electoral result will force Californians to reckon with the fact that their initiative process is at odds with norms of American civil rights and government. At the very least, my state needs routine judicial review of initiatives before they go on the ballot, so the public doesn’t face the repeated frustration of passing something only to see it thrown out in court. Maybe this case will produce a backlash that pushes that reform forward.
From (raving gay hater) Maggie Gallagher, who says not only that Rush Limbaugh is not a social conservative (HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH) but that he is right:
In the meantime, the ruling — a slur against the majority of the American people, who have been declared irrational bigots by a federal judge — is firing up millions of voters, complicating an already difficult election for Democrats. Rush Limbaugh, who is not known as a social conservative, said, “The American people are furious. My e-mails are unbelievable. This federal judge yesterday, this decision, Prop. 8, California, has just put people over the edge, and all of these decisions are coming one after another from all corners of the federal government. It’s as if we have absolutely no say in what is going on all around us. Decisions are being made for us, in lieu of us and imposed on us.”
Rush is spot-on. This decision feeds into a larger narrative in which ordinary Americans believe they are losing control; that the powerful aren’t responding to their views or values. The only way for people to respond to this kind of slur is through the political process.
Douglas (“Civil rights are getting in the way of democrats getting elected”) Schoen:
The court decision throwing out Proposition 8 will almost certainly hurt the Democrats in November.
The invalidation of California’s Proposition 8 is based on the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses — not the California State Constitution — and is potentially of national consequence. But while he rehearsed every nuance of the evidence introduced at trial, Judge Vaughn Walker left us with a remarkably limited and vulnerable opinion.
The post-Proposition 8 landscape? Appeals of Judge Walker’s decision will leave marriage equality in limbo for some time, but one outcome is certain: the Boies-Olson legal team gave a blueprint for winning in and outside of court by opting for a trial and using it as a platform for the stories of gay and lesbian couples.
Ed (“I’m not a homophobe just because I don’t want gays to have equal access under the law”) Rogers, or “Judicial Activism!” “Judicial Activism!”:
A judge overturning Proposition 8 in California is another political headache for the Democrats. Once again the left is using the courts to do what no elected state or federal legislature would do. In this case, a single judge is overturning the will of millions of California voters.
The left seems determined to force its ideals on the majority, even in the face of overwhelming public disapproval. Californians made their view clear; they believe marriage is between a man and a woman. If a legislature wants to vote otherwise or if a state referendum wants to define it differently, then so be it. But those rules don’t give many Democrats the result that they are insisting upon. Therefore they seek mandates on the unwilling population by judicial fiat.
You can believe marriage is between a man and a woman yet still respect individual privacy rights. Believing marriage is between a man and a woman isn’t anti-gay, and it isn’t bigoted. The more the Democrats scream otherwise, the more they alienate themselves from the majority.
Tony Perkins, head of the influential Family Research Council, argued on Sunday that the judge who overturned California’s ban on gay marriage should have recused himself from the case due to his own sexuality.
One of the most powerful social conservatives in the nation, Perkins told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision was compromised by the fact that he is “openly homosexual. (It’s rumored, but not an open fact, that Walker is gay).
“I think what you have is one judge who thinks he knows — and a district level judge and an openly homosexual judge at that — who says he knows better than not only 7 million voters in the state of California but voters in 30 states across the nation that have passed marriage amendments,” said Perkins. “This is far from over.”
“Had this guy been … an evangelical preacher in his past there would have been cries for him to step down from this case,” he added. “So I do think [his homosexuality] has a bearing on the case. But this is not without precedent.”
Perkins is not alone in arguing that Walker’s ruling, overturning California’s Proposition 8 law banning gay marriage, was compromised. The American Family Association called the decision an “absolutely outrageous and unconscionable ruling” that should never have been allowed to happen. Walker, the AFA insisted, should have recused himself “because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity.”
Arguing that Walker’s sexuality affected his legal reasoning is, of course, a rather dubious way of protesting the ruling he offered. There were no protests from Perkins, for instance, when a Virginia judge with ties to the attorney general arguing the case ruled that lawsuits against health care reform could proceed legally. Nor, for that matter, did he alert viewers to the fact that Walker was appointed initially by Ronald Reagan, then again by George H.W. Bush, and opposed, along the way, by Democrats in the Senate.
One thing I did note about the objections, however, is something I’ve seen repeatedly from the fundamentalist conservative camp on all kinds of issues of social justice and equality. Look at the tirades that the bigots unleash, and you’ll find a common thread: they repeatedly will say something along the lines of “This is not normal!” Or “they’re trying to make it seem normal!” Or “You can’t pretend that that should be normal!”
Normal. Normal normal normal. It’s like a watchword with these people. They cling to it like a security blanket. If something is normal, to them, it’s good. And if it’s not normal, it must be forced to conform or eliminated.
The Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, is VERY consistent on their views about government. So, in good libertarian fashion, they support the Prop 8 ruling. Here are two of their articles on their blog, Cato @ Liberty.
I should also add that this all could have been averted if government just got out of the marriage business entirely: have civil unions for whoever wants them — which would be a contractual basket of rights not unlike business partnerships – and let religious and other private institutions confer whatever sacraments they want. If the state provides the institution of marriage, however, it has to provide it to all people.
In other words, this “liberal San Francisco judge” was recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups. It’s a good thing for advocates of marriage equality that those forces were only able to block Walker twice.
This includes a video of Sarah Palin’s response (which Jon Stewart reacts to in the Daily Show video above)
Anderson Cooper went to a noisy rally in West Hollywood to interview Boies and Olsen and then did dueling experts with Wolfson and same-sex marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage. Gallagher said the case was pushed by”two straight guys with a hunger for media attention” and against the wishes of the gay activist establishment. Gallagher became especially defensive when a frustrated Cooper compared the lack of public support for same-sex marriage with the lack of support for interracial marriage when interracial marriage bans were outlawed, saying she resented being called a bigot.
The decision was given the breaking news treatment on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, although it was ignored by Bill O’Reilly. Sean Hannity touched on the issue only briefly, interviewing Sarah Palin who said “I pray to God” that Congress doesn’t “rubberstamp” the nomination of Elena Kagan given the increasing number of times judges were overriding “thwart the will of the people.” Hannity warned that it could cause “increased anger in the country” if judges were allowed to continue to undo measures like Prop 8 and the Arizona immigration law.
“Here we have an openly gay federal judge,” Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of The National Organization for Marriage, who advocated for Proposition 8, told the Associated Press. She said the judge was “substituting his views for those of the American people”
Some are saying Walker should have addressed his sexuality before the trial, and Bryan Fischer, issues director for the American Family Association, is urging members to contact their political representatives to impeach the court proceedings.
You know I love Rachel Maddow. And I specifically loved this segment last night because, like her, it made me laugh out loud (LOL, ya’ll):
But for all the lofty language about freedom and morality, nobody can fairly accuse Judge Walker of putting together an insubstantial or unsubstantiated opinion today. Indeed, the whole point of this legal exercise—the lengthy trial, the spectacularly detailed finding of facts (80 of them! with subheadings!)—was to pit expert against expert, science against science, and fact against prejudice.
It’s hard to read Judge Walker’s opinion without sensing that what really won out today was science, methodology, and hard work. Had the proponents of Prop 8 made even a minimal effort to put on a case, to track down real experts, to do more than try to assert their way to legal victory, this would have been a closer case. But faced with one team that mounted a serious effort and another team that did little more than fire up their big, gay boogeyman screensaver for two straight weeks, it wasn’t much of a fight. Judge Walker scolds them at the outset for promising in their trial brief to prove that same-sex marriage would “effect some twenty-three harmful consequences” and then putting on almost no case. […]
Judge Walker is already being flayed alive for the breadth and boldness of his decision. The appeals road will be long and nasty. Walker has temporarily stayed the ruling pending argument on a stay. (Rick Hasen argues it may be wise for him to stay the order pending appeal for tactical reasons.) Any way you look at it, today’s decision was written for a court of one—Kennedy—the man who has written most eloquently about dignity and freedom and the right to determine one’s own humanity. The real triumph of Perry v. Schwarzenegger may be that it talks in the very loftiest terms about matters rooted in logic, science, money, social psychology, and fact.
Perhaps even more grating than the ad hominem attacks on U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker (read Patt Morrison’s excellent post earlier Thursday dismissing the conflict-of-interest claims against His Gayness) was the White House’s reiteration of President Obama’s hairsplitting position on legalizing same-sex marriage. In short, nothing’s changed: The president is opposed to Proposition 8 on the grounds that it’s divisive and mean-spirited, but he’s still not in favor of gay marriage. […]
Look, even the most uncompromising supporters of marriage equality can appreciate the political implications for Obama and the worried congressional Democrats in November. But there’s something especially insincere about the president’s awkward attempt to endear himself — or at least try to save face with — the two sides in this debate, whose positions have practically no overlap.
Even if the pro-Proposition 8 side’s arguments against gay marriage are dishonest (Walker devotes much of his decision to explaining why), at least they’re speaking truthfully about their moral views on same-sex nuptials. I can’t confidently say the same for Obama.
A key voting bloc for Democrats celebrates an important civil rights victory, and the White House heralds the occasion by coupling its enthusiasm for the victory with a reminder that it opposes the actual civil right that’s at stake.
“SHORTER” BARACK OBAMA: “Hey, LGBT Community! I’m happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but marriage between a man and woman is the greatest matrimony of all time!”
Still, it’s probably unfair of me to single out the White House and the president for this shameful display of muddle-mouthed lip service. After all, they’re just behaving like typical Democrats. Sure, there are individual exceptions, but as a general rule, Democrats treat the LGBT community as a captive constituency. They may not be able or willing to come out in favor of gay marriage, but at least they aren’t Republicans, right?
When I heard about Judge Robert Vaughn Walker’s ruling on same-sex marriage I immediately thought of one person: Judge Susan Bolton.
On July 28 Susan Bolton issued an injunction that defanged the anti-immigrant S.B. 1070 in Arizona. On Aug. 4, Vaughn Walker found California’s Proposition 8 that outlawed same-sex marriage unconstitutional. For this they will both be tarred as “judicial activists.” Judge Bolton has received death threats. Judge Walker is being denounced.
I have no idea if the two judges know each other, but within one week, they had suddenly brought together two parts of who I am. As a gay immigrant, I am used to juggling identities, never sure which one is acceptable in which setting, which one I should check at the door.
Now, suddenly, I feel the full weight of the U.S. Constitution behind both identities, affirming both of them. It is a rare feeling and a majestic one.
In a court of law, evidence is presented by the plaintiffs and the defense. A judge or jury considers the evidence. A verdict or decision is rendered. In the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the plaintiffs went before Judge Vaughn Walker with the legal equivalent of the New York Yankees. The defense showed up with the Bad News Bears. The pro-Prop 8 defense single-handedly undermined just about every argument that has ever been used to justify denying gay men and lesbians entry into the institution of marriage. Thus, Walker handed down a sweeping victory for marriage equality.
During the course of the trial, I would see Tweets from Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend (“…always steamin’” is her rather accurate tagline) about how utterly inept the proponents of Prop 8 were. Judge Walker’s opinion obliterated their Swiss Cheese-like arguments. Sometimes using their own past statements to do it.
From Color Lines: “A Simple, Historic Statement” (this is the whole thing)
After is all said and done–through the community battles over political priorities, the electoral scapegoating, the right’s hateful madness about my right to love–this passage from Judge Vaughn Walker’s Prop 8 ruling will likely endure:
“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.”
Indeed. Thank goodness someone finally wrote that simple truth down in law.
NPR’s Morning Edition: “Will Gay Marriage Ruling Survive Appeal?” (Seems rather anti-ruling heavy, no? Was there no one to ask about the good of Roe v. Wade? Is there no one who thinks it isn’t too soon? Anyone who thinks the point of the SCOTUS is to follow the Constitution, not public opinion? Anyone who thinks civil rights are more important than politics? Or can challenge the crazy-ass right-wing nuts who hate gay people? Anyone, NPR?)
With gay marriage banned in most states, Stanford University law professor Rick Banks said, justices will be loathe to swing so far ahead of public opinion.
“Less than a decade ago, it was constitutionally permissible to put a man in jail for having sex with another man — less than a decade ago, that was permissible,” Banks said. “And now here we are on the verge of same-sex marriage. I mean, that’s too soon.”
If the court does opt to uphold a constitutional right to gay marriage in the next couple of years, Peter Sprigg of the conservative Family Research Council agreed it would be explosive.
“This would be the Roe v. Wade of same-sex marriage, that in fact Roe v. Wade served only to polarize the issue of abortion rather than to settle it,” Sprigg said.
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage said Walker’s decision Wednesday undermined public opinion and will ultimately bolster political support for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
“Every time a court does this, we grow exponentially. People are fed up, and that’s what’s happening right now,” said Brown, who has been leading rallies against gay marriage around the nation. “It’s going to make clear what the ultimate solution is. You know, this issue was working it out on the state level before Walker made this decision. Now he’s made it a national issue. It’s going to be an issue in the elections.”
Stanford’s Rick Banks agreed.
“This is the democrats’ worst nightmare, basically,” he said.
The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans.
The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults. […]
One of Judge Walker’s strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades. All marriages are now unions of equals, he wrote, and there is no reason to restrict that equality to straight couples. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage “exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage,” he wrote. “That time has passed.” […]
The ideological odd couple who led the case — Ted Olson and David Boies, who fought against each other in the Supreme Court battle over the 2000 election — were criticized by some supporters of same-sex marriage for moving too quickly to the federal courts. Certainly, there is no guarantee that the current Supreme Court would uphold Judge Walker’s ruling. But there are times when legal opinions help lead public opinions.
Just as they did for racial equality in previous decades, the moment has arrived for the federal courts to bestow full equality to millions of gay men and lesbians.
Here you can watch to Democracy Now’s show that has guests Shannon Minter (Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights He was a lead counsel in the 2008 California State Supreme Court case that allowed same-sex couples to marry, a ruling that was reversed when voters approved Proposition 8) and Marc Solomon (Marriage Director at Equality California). Lots of video reaction including two lesbians who married in California (their first date in NYC was the first night of Stonewall Riots!).
Both sides are pushing a progressive agenda here. Can’t people see that? Both sides are leaving it up to the government to legitimize what should be a private matter.
Aside from that, we are leaving it up to the government to legitimize the traditional “nuclear” family. Excuse me, but the traditional family needs no government legitimizing, thank you very much. One man, one woman. That will always be the primary composition of parenthood, because that’s what biology dictates. If one believes in God, it is what God dictates. We can’t change that through government intervention because the government doesn’t have that kind of power, nor should we ever believe it does.
Judge Walker isn’t wrong because he wants gay people to have due process and equal protection. He’s wrong because he wants everyone to be treated the same. Equal opportunity and equal protection are not the same as an equal outcome. […]
We are not all the same. Nor should we want to be. How can the gay community “celebrate diversity” while at the same time trying to eradicate it?
Cardinal George stated, “Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of any society. The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good.”
“It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined,” the U.S. bishops’ president insisted.
I’ll just quickly say that back in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a whole lot of Americans though that nature had defined the human experience via skin color. And the fourteenth amendment said that the government and its court most certainly have the authority to reach into those areas.
To be Fair & Balanced, here’s an opinion from Fox News (I tried to find video from O’Reilly last night but I guess he didn’t talk about it. In fact, it’s really difficult to find much of anything about Prop 8 on Fox News unless you specifically search for it. Curious. I’m sure we will be hearing plenty from the Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly set today. And also from assholes like Limbaugh. Yay.)
I wrote in this space yesterday that if Judge Vaughan Walker is in a committed same-sex relationship – and there is credible evidence that he is – then a question about his impartiality in the Proposition 8 trial arises.
I explained that Judge Walker could potentially benefit from his own ruling, at least if he and his partner harbor an interest in marrying. I concluded by saying, not that Judge Walker was guilty of bias, but by lamenting that the question had not been frankly explored in a timely way. […]
Now that the decision in Perry v. Scwarzenegger is in hand, we can conduct a useful experiment to see (up to a point) who is right.
We can now look at Judge Walker’s opinion and ask: is this the handiwork of an impartial and open mind on the subject of same-sex marriage?
Or does the opinion rather resemble an ad hoc rationale for conclusions reached by its author – Judge Walker – on other grounds?
You do not have to be a legal expert to conduct this experiment. You can even try it at home. Slog through Judge Walker’s 136-page opinion and then ask yourself: why does this document read like the battle report of a search-and-destroy mission?
So, if Judge Walker was straight then that makes him so-called “impartial”? And, I have to ask, do you think the guy who wrote this opinion piece, who went digging into the ruling (sort of – he’s kind of vague, not actually taking on specifics) is “impartial”? Should I believe him and his opinion of Judge Walker’s ruling? I’m shocked that Fox News decided to give this guy a platform to discuss how he feels about the ruling. Shocked.
The first press release in the inbox on the Prop 8 decision is from San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris, the Democratic Nominee for California Attorney General, who released the following statement after a Federal Judge struck down Prop 8:
“Today’s historic decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was a monumental step forward in the fight for equality. “From the moment Attorney General Jerry Brown issued his analysis that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, I have proudly concurred with him. That position has been confirmed by Federal Judge Walker’s opinion today and stands in a proud line of jurisprudence reflected so boldly in 1948 when California’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion finally reached in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia. “Attorney General Brown, Judge Walker, and I have all sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Nevertheless, the ruling is a major turning point in the culture wars. Walker, it’s important to remember, is no leftist. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the bench in 1987. Ironically, Democrats stalled his nomination in part because he was seen as being unfriendly to gays and lesbians—as a private attorney, he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in a lawsuit against San Francisco’s Gay Olympics. He finally became a judge under George H.W. Bush.
And, of course, one of the lawyers arguing for marriage equality was Ted Olson, the former solicitor general who represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore. From the beginning, the case has demonstrated that it’s becoming impossible for anyone but the most committed ideologues to take arguments against same-sex marriage seriously.
“More and more Americans are supporting equality, and it is the stories of same-sex couples that are leading that charge across the nation,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Today’s decision comes after same-sex couples from across California shared their personal stories with Judge Vaughn Walker and the public, helping to show that all loving and committed couples – straight and gay – should have the same opportunity to take care of and be responsible for each other.
“We urge media to highlight the couples impacted by today’s decision to grant them the liberty and equality upon which our nation was founded.”
The popular response to yesterday’s ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker invalidating Proposition 8 has been that it’s a forceful statement for liberty and equality. Though that’s true, I think striking down Prop 8 says something more fundamental, and even more important: rights aren’t subject to the whim of popular opinion. The question of equality isn’t decided by a show of hands.
We don’t vote on rights here in America. If we did, the only group who would have any rights at all would be white men who own property. There’d be no reason to grant rights by popular vote to anyone else, so women wouldn’t be allowed to vote.
The San Francisco Chronicles‘ report on the ruling, the reaction, and where it goes from here:
But the broader legal and political repercussions are weighty, as the trial was the first ever held in federal court on the issue. Legal experts said that if Walker’s ruling is affirmed on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court would almost certainly take up the case and establish law for the rest of the country.
If the appeals court reverses Walker’s decision and restores the ban, the experts said, the Supreme Court may leave the case alone.
The appeal to the Ninth Circuit could be decided within months – or the process could take more than a year.
“If the Ninth Circuit invalidates all of the laws of the Western states, that would be a momentous change that might require the Supreme Court to charge in,” UC Davis law Professor Vikram Amar said. “But if they uphold Prop. 8, they’re not changing the world.”
Walker examines about how several major religious groups — Catholics, Mormons, conservative evangelicals such as the South Baptist Convention, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — condemn either homosexual identity or behavior or both, citing documents from the Vatican to denominational resolutions.
But he spells out in all capital letters in the decision: “A PRIVATE MORAL VIEW THAT SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE INFERIOR TO OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES IS NOT A PROPER BASIS FOR LEGISLATION…”
A nation with a constitutionally illiterate citizenry is in need of education. A nation with a constitutionally illiterate judiciary is in genuine crisis.
Yes, this is about a federal judge’s overturning of California’s Proposition 8, which reserved legal recognition for heterosexual marriage. But it is not about my political difference with the judge.
Vaughn Walker is entitled to whatever views he likes on the issue of gay marriage. He is not entitled to use his power to force a state to agree with him.
It gets better from there because I’m not sure Davis gets that Walker is a judge.
But the right to marry could soon become very different in its impact on couples who struggle against other social barriers, including immigrants and people of color.
The New York-based Immigration Equality represents thousands of couples threatened with separation under immigration restrictions that don’t recognize their partnerships. The group has pinned its hopes on an earlier district court ruling in Massachusetts against the federal Defense of Marriage Act. With that decision still in limbo, the final Prop. 8 decision could be a long step forward for binational couples trying to make marriage work across borders.
Immigration Equality’s Legal Director Victoria Neilson blogged that the ruling was “another clear sign that history is on our side.” However, she wrote, “Because this is a first step in a longer legal battle, there will be no direct benefit to binational couples for now. We’re still reading and digesting the decision and will blog again shortly about its implications. For now, let’s take a moment to celebrate.”
Another NPR piece, titled “National Review: ‘Prop 8’ Conclusion Is Problematic” written by William Duncan (director of the Marriage Law Foundation, which “is a non-profit organization which provides legal resources to defend and protect marriage between a husband and wife. It is the only pro-family group focused entirely on legal issues.” This is the #1 piece that comes up when you search “prop 8” at npr.org)
The court’s legal premise is pretty novel. Judge Walker rules that laws reflecting the understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman violate the 14 Amendment’s due-process and equal-protection clauses. That is to say, he believes Proposition 8 took away a fundamental right and singled out a protected class for unfair treatment. The bottom-line conclusion in support of both legal theories is that California voters could have had no motive in supporting Proposition 8 other than a desire to signal that people who identify as gay and lesbian are inferior to heterosexuals. This is deeply problematic on at least two levels. […]
First, none of the testimony in the trial showed (nor could it have shown) the voters’ subjective intent in approving the measure. […]
The second, more fundamental problem stems from the reality that marriage has always been understood, with very few exceptions, as the union of a man and a woman.
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