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Federal judge to rule on whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry [Updated]

Protesters marched into the early morning in Los Angeles yesterday, expressing their anger against the passage of Proposition 8.

A federal judge in San Francisco will decide Wednesday whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who presided over a trial earlier this year on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, will release his long-awaited ruling Wednesday on whether the 2008 ballot initiative violates the U.S. Constitution, a court spokeswoman said. [Updated, 5:50 p.m.: His ruling is expected to be released between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.]

Walker, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, heard myriad witnesses testify about the history of marriage, the nature of homosexuality and the degree of power gays and lesbians possess in the political system during the 2 1/2-week trial in January.

Most of the testimony favored marriage rights for homosexuals. Walker’s decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Los Angeles-based group funding the litigation hired former Solicitor General Ted Olson, a conservative, and noted litigator David Boies, who squared off against Olson in Bush vs. Gore, to represent two couples who are challenging Proposition 8.

The California Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 that gays and lesbians were entitled to marry under the state Constitution in an historic ruling in May 2008. Voters passed Proposition 8 six months later, amending the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Walker will decide whether California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection and due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco

Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (252)

Uphold Traditional Divorce!!! Divorce should be between a man and a woman!!!!!

If this is about civil rights, it should apply to any and all alternative lifestyles. Right now anyone can marry as long as they do it within the confines of the so called norm, ie, one man to one woman. What if someone is bisexual and they feel unsatisfied by having to limit their commitment to a person of either same or opposite sex? What if they are unsatisfied with one person altogether and want to marry more than one person? What if they only want to marry one person of the opposite sex but that person is already married? What f they want to marry a sister or a parent? Should we tell someone thay can't marry even if they weren't able to get pregnant? Waht is tro stop incest pregnancies even if someone isn't married? What if a person wants to marry an inanimate object or their guardian angel or invisible friend? Should we deny them their right to pursue happines in their own way?

It is funny how strong the anger can be by those who argue civil rights for gays toward someone when they include those options. They get angry that they are included in those groups as though small minorities are less deserving of civil rights than the larger, better funded, highly political minority.

The truth seems to be that either all are protected or none. If none are protected it comes down to society deciding which groups it wants to include based on societal precepts for society's advancement. Most recognize that incest has a downside that far outweighs indivdual rights that a society wants to grant. Many would put same sex relationships in a similar, if not so extreme, category. They consider it too familial for equal 'marriage' status. It can be accepted as an adult decision but too much to tell society that a 10 year old must be told that the same same sex friends they are having slumber parties with should be looked at as romantic partners. To many, that is just another form of societal incest.

Are they right or wrong? That is something that should be left to people to decide for themself or the jurisdiction they choose to live in. Same sex relationships are gaining greater and greater acceptance throughout society.
That is the test that should be used rather than letting an activist judge decide for all parties. This should be a step by step process that gains acceptance according to the will of the people who are increasingly opening society to this particular lifestyle without being forced to necessarily open it to others.

Equal civil rights are not up to majority vote. Dear Drudgeans, get on the right side of freedom for once. Allowing gays the same rights as straights doesn't harm anyone in any way. It's just the right thing to do.

In Chicago and Washington DC the "will of the people" was strict Gun Control, Even though it was "the will of the people" it was struck down as unconstitutional. So does this mean that the Supremes were wrong on this because it was the "will of the people?" I Think not!

Marriage has two very different components, the First being the civil contract aka the "Marriage license." Like any contract it can limit the number of parents -sorry polygamists- and as with any contract it has to be entered into by a person of legal age that is competent to enter into the contract- Sorry Dog lovers and Pedophiles! This contract is recorded with the County so as to determine property ownership, the ability to make legal decisions and other legal principles that can only be made with a valid contract in effect- Civil Unions do not have the same legal standing! To base the inability of being able to enter the contract based on the sex of one of the parties is sexual discrimination!

The second component is a Religious marriage; this is where according to the Constitution of our nation you are able to enter into a Religious or faith based contract in accordance with your beliefs, this contract is between you, your partner and you deity. Since it is religious in nature the State can not dictate the criteria of the contract. If the parties chose to do so they may follow the criteria to have it civilly accepted!

That is the difference, Thanks to the First Amendment the State cannot compel your Religion to perform a religious ceremony just as the First Amendment guarantees the your Religion cannot compel the State to adopt its beliefs- when that happens it is called Sharia Law

I strongly suggest that those of you talking about the "Will of the People" actually study read and learn to understand the Constitution, since by not doing so you are showing yourselves to be the biggest Threat our Nation Faces!

1) To be clear, homosexuals already have the legal ability to marry someone of the opposite sex. This is the same legal ability as heterosexual couples have. This cannot be contested.

2) It is wrong to reduce the opposition to gay marriage to "religion", as some try to do. This would be like reducing the opposition to murder or stealing to mere "religion". The bottom line is that while there may be religious arguments against gay marriage, there are also rational, civic arguments. Just because a person may not be familiar with said arguments does not mean that he or she may attempt to paint this as the ban on gay marriage as a "religious thing".

I believe that Equality & Justice will once again win tomorrow.

Ironic how the people who don't want a judge deciding, didn't mind when GW Bush was hand-selected by the Republican picked Supreme Court.

I don't see the huff. Marraige is defined as a compact between a man and a woman. If a gay man and a lesbian want to marry each other, I don't see how Prop 8 forbids them from doing so.

The Supreme Court of The United States, in 1959 made it clear:
“Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival….”
What is it about marriage that makes it "fundamental to our very existence and survival?" It is the production of Children.
A woman/woman marriage can produce children only by synthetic means. A man/man marriage cannot produce children by any means. A homosexual marriage contributes nothing fundamental to the existence and survival of our species.

@neil&bob...do you observe all of the Levitical laws? If not, I think your opinion is irrelevant. Ever read Galatians?? Crack your bible sometime...

This is not a bench mark to bring back polygamy. Civil union is a contract between TWO consenting ADULTS. Not a human and an animal, not three people or one hundred. Two. Whether it be hetero or homosexual.

The ballot for Prop 8 was extremely confusing. No means yes...yes means no? C'mon, lets make it easy enough for a 3 year old to understand. Yes means yes and no means no. That way, we really find out what the people really want.

To the guy who quoted Leviticus: So, are you conveniently ignoring the fact that in the same section as 20:13 where Leviticus is laying down the law against homosexuality, the following are also forbidden:

No cattle may graze with other kinds of cattle (19:19)
Crop rotation is not allowed (19:19)
Poly-blend clothing is forbidden (19:19)
Shaving/haircuts are forbidden (19:27)
Backtalk against one's parents is punishable by death (20:9)
Adultery is punishable by death (20:10)
Having a threesome with the wife and mother-in-law is punishable by death through fire (20:14)
Beastiality is punishable by death for all involved (20:27)
Intimacy with the wife while she is on her period is punishable by exile (20:18)
Female family members of those in priesthood who are involved in prostitution are to be burned (20:27)
People with physical deformities or disabilities may not go before an alter of God (21:17-18)
Blasphemy is punishable by death (24:14-16)

These too are among the so-called God's Laws which many of you homophobes invoke, but conveniently ignore.

There is no issue here. A straight man cannot marry a straight man. A gay man can still marry a woman which is the same right that gays have.

It is not that gays and lesbians may have a constitutional right to marry, it is whether marriage is between a man and a woman, between two people or between people in general.

If it is a constitutional right, then I have the right also to marry same-sex, even if I don't see myself as gay.

Woe to those who call evil "good" and good "evil"! Woe to those who say that two men having sex with each other is all right! Oh yes, vote those who are sympathetic into office. Call those who would warn of impending judgment "haters" because you reject the truth of God's word! Rejoice, for you are getting what you want - temporary freedom from having to answer to Almighty God! Yes, rejoice in your sin, for this is the day before judgment !

I have a husband and two small children. I don't need gay marriage. But I want to see this stain removed from our Constitution, and I want to see the court reaffirm what we have always known: that civil marriage is nothing more and nothing less than a contractual relationship between two adults. I wish the Government would stop making personal decisions for us, and get back to letting adults make adult decisions for themselves.

Another liberal ruling is going to put the country on the brink. Last time I checked, that level of "brink" was 1860.

I can't wait until Nino Scalia has to hear oral arguments on this one.

I may be just this dumb, third-rate attorney, but somewhere along the line I learned that a government-issued license is PRIVILEGE, not a right. And when something is a privilege, when the government issues a license that means it can attach whatever reasonable conditions it wants before it gives you one.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you get married isn't the government issuing a license? And isn't requiring parties to be of the opposite sex a reasonable condition?

Excuse me if I'm not getting this.

WHY is it again either heterosexuals OR homosexuals, feel the "need" to have the "state" (or any "state") acknowledge the emotional contract adult humans can engage in and maintain ON THEIR OWN? This "legality" of "marriage" between consenting adults is needed WHY exactly?

Homosexuality, like androgyny, might be an instinctive racial response to overpopulation, crowding, and stress. Both flourish when empire reaches its apogee. - Edward Abbey

Marriage equality? What does that mean? Should polygamists be allowed to marry 20 people? Why not? If you say no, aren't you discriminating against their interpretation of marriage?

Okay, can I marry two wives? Or three if I get bored? Maybe a blond, redhead and brunette...

People that say that civil partnership is an adequate substitute clearly are unaware of some of the basic truths we learned when african american people fought for their rights. "Separate but equal is inherently inequal." That's the supreme court. If it was truly "the same", why not use the same word? Religion? Yeah, the government should totally be mixed with religion, that ALWAYS goes well (*ahem* spanish inquisition *ahem*).

As for the "slippery slope" idea; that if we let a judge legislate terrible consequences could happen in the future, that argument fails to acknowledge the fact that some of the basic rights people possess today in the states came from "legislating from the bench." Maybe its not the safest way to get things done, but when the majority (and, thus, those who represent them) deny the minority rights to which they feel they are entitled, it can be pretty useful. How many landmark cases have provided rights to countless minorities because of "legislation from the bench?" Dangerous? Maybe. Efficient? Absolutely. I say get involved.

One way or the other, I'm patient. It will happen. People thought women would never vote; that blacks would never be free. Those people were destined to be wrong, and so are those who believe gay marriage will always be illegal. The time is coming, maybe a generation away, where it won't even be a question. Ah progress.

I don't care if a gay couple is married. It's just a legal contract like every other marriage in the country. So, I don't care. Re instate prop 8. Lets move on and be happy in life folks rather than down trod gay people who aren't doing anything to you.

Is that all marriage is then ... the government's sanctioning of fine romantic feelings between two (or more, I guess) people? What good is that to anyone?

The only reason government should be interested in marriage is because it promotes stabilization with respect to procreation. When that erodes, there is chaos with the family structure, income, property and ownership rights and law becomes very tangled. There are many unfortunate examples of multiple father/mother families and even though loving people might try and hold it together, it's generally not good. Like it or not, the nuclear family *is* the fundamental building block of society.

It's not that gay people aren't equal, marriage is just irrelevant to their naturally childless relationship and in our hypersensitive world, it has been misinterpreted as bigotry. Sadly, this is now typical of America, where rational debate is impossible and almost every issue degenerates into charges of racism and/or bigotry. The future isn't looking too bright.

I'm neutral. Gay marriage will not affect me as I suspect gay people will just continue as always. However, they too seem confused whether marriage is a religious or civil institution, judging from the comments I've read below.

The erosion of democracy by the judiciary concerns me more than gay marriage. Recent judicial decrees have voided laws voted on by the public. Two immediate examples stand: The emotional and divisive Proposition 187, voided by an obviously biased judge, and the recent overturn of the major part of the Arizona bill by a judge who was said to be hand-picked by the Obama administration with instructions to overturn it. Such judges are normally chosen, I understand, on a rotating basis.

The gays, perhaps overconfident, failed to make their point to the most liberal electorate of all, California, on Proposition 8. Now a poster here says the person ruling on this case is in fact gay herself. Unfortunately, the Constitution is like the Bible and can be interpreted in a number of ways equal to the people reading it.

I am afraid that as politicians become adept at manipulating the public mind, democracy here will become a joke as it is in Israel, India, and other pseudo-democracies.

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