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Prop. 8 foes, backers look to Supreme Court showdown on gay marriage [Updated]

A day after Proposition 8 was thrown out in court, both sides in California's debate over gay marriage are focusing on the next fight in a battle that is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Opponents of gay marriage immediately vowed to appeal a federal judge's ruling saying same-sex unions were legal in California. [Updated at 10:30 a.m.: Gay-marriage opponents formally filed the appeal Thursday morning.]

The next step will come Friday, when U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker holds a new hearing. The judge stayed his order allowing gay marriage at least until then. And it remains unclear if --and when -- gay marriages will begin again in the state.

Lawyers on both sides expect the ruling to be appealed and ultimately to reach the Supreme Court during the next few years.

Walker's decision was being carefully analyzed by attorneys with an eye on how the high court might view his legal reasoning.

At least some legal experts said his lengthy recitation of the testimony could bolster his ruling during the appeals to come. Higher courts generally defer to trial judges' rulings on factual questions that stem from a trial, although they still could determine that he was wrong on the law.

John Eastman, a conservative scholar who supported Proposition 8, said Walker's analysis and detailed references to trial evidence were likely to persuade Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a swing vote on the high court, to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

"I think Justice Kennedy is going to side with Judge Walker," said the former dean of Chapman University Law School.

Barry McDonald, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University, said Walker's findings that homosexuality was a biological status instead of a voluntary choice, that children didn't suffer harm when raised by same-sex couples and that Proposition 8 was based primarily on irrational fear of homosexuality were "going to make it more difficult for appellate courts to overturn this court's ruling."

Edward E. Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said he believed the judge's ruling was both legally and morally wrong.

"All public law and public policy is developed from some moral perspective, the morality that society judges is important," he said. To say that society shouldn't base its laws on moral views is "hard to even comprehend," he said.

Gay-marriage opponents plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court's decision will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court.

In his decision, Walker said the evidence showed that "domestic partnerships exist solely to differentiate same-sex unions from marriage" and that marriage is "culturally superior."

California "has no interest in differentiating between same-sex and opposite-sex unions," Walker said in his 136-page ruling.

The ruling was the first in the country to strike down a marriage ban on federal constitutional grounds. Previous cases have cited state constitutions.

In striking down Proposition 8, Walker said the ban violated the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Previous court decisions have established that the ability to marry is a fundamental right that cannot be denied to people without a compelling rationale, Walker said. Proposition 8 violated that right and discriminated on the basis of both sex and sexual orientation in violation of the equal protection clause, he ruled.

-- Maura Dolan, Carol J. Williams and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Jovanie Arvaezi, left, and Mark Vaccarino at the West Hollywood rally on Aug. 4, 2010, celebrating the Proposition 8 ruling. “We hope to get married soon,” Vaccarino said. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

Prop. 8 ruling: Full Coverage

Comments () | Archives (175)

Perhaps judge walker will remember that majority rules in this country when a majority of us recall him.

Judges are telling us note to vote anymore. I would like to know why we haven't heard anything about this judge being a homosexual. While judges are supposed to be fair and go by laws and precidents they also have to use their own interpretation of the law. If his views are bias due to his being a homosexual shouldn't the possibility of being a conflict of interest be brought up?

revalation is comming, and you are bringing it on faster

Let's all be adults about this. Prop 8 is legalized discrimination. Plain and simple.

Let's all be adults about this. Prop 8 is legalized discrimination.

When government legislates morality, it becomes a theocracy, not a democracy. Like Iran. Opponents to gay marriage are always free to move.

Is anyone suprised by a gay judge overturning the ban on gay marriage? Marriage is a states right issue, and YOUR VOTE DON'T MEAN SQUAT!!!!!!!!!!!

please people ! ELECTION days how much is in play '' judge '' think please

So, the tone of the article is that Judge Walker stayed to facts and avoided discussions of "morals", those highly charged little biases. Good for him. Our laws are based upon what we feel to be basic rights of people, those rights we would wish to have applied to ourselves, we must extend to others. Morals are too hard to argue as they are based upon generally a religious views and as an argument indicate you do not have anything else to stand on.

I dont understand why we vote if the courts are going to make there own rulling anyway. I dont really care weather your straight ,gay, yay or nay the power should be in the hands of the people. I mean would they have allowed advocates for prop8 to appeal if same-sex marriage was approved by the voters?By the way we passed this(prop8)by the people who voted twice now. I think we are wasting califonians money.

I really am not bothered by gay marriage, either way the people are going to be together. The only issue I worry about is green card marriages are an issue now illegals will fake being gay to stay

Simple Solution,

Just call the union something else, give it all the same rights and privileges as Marriage and you'd be on your way...

Marriage is defined as a Union between a Man and a Woman

Marriage is an old and deeply religious word, Stop trying to change the majorities definition of a simple word and come up with something new and meaningful to the gay community.

People that are married now might not want the word defined same way as the gay community and it's their right to think that way, just as it's a gays right to celebrate, pride march and believe their way. If this is truly a human rights issue and not some we're trying to make a point, then celebrate our differences and just name your own union already...


If those wanting to outlaw gay marriage because it's immoral, why aren't those same people that are screaming anti-gay messages also pushing for anti-divorce laws too? Isn't that immoral and against the sanctity of marriage? Hypocrites...

Judge Walker should have recused himself, and the proponents of Prop. 8 should appeal on that as well. Everybody knew how he would rule - because he is gay, and he lives in San Francisco.

The Democrats are gonna pay for this in November . . .

Thank You Judge Walker! His time taken in preparing this decision was well-spent. His ruling is thoughtful, researched and based on established law regarding fundamental rights, and correctly observes the lack of evidence provided by the proponents of Proposition 8. Critics will cite that the judge is gay, but make no allowances for bias if the judge had been heterosexual and ruled in their favor. A republican judge, appointed by the first President Bush, who previously had ruled against gay groups in wanting to use the name "gay olympics", is now branded a "liberal activist" judge based on this decision. How laughable! People, marriage is a fundamental right in this country, therefore, it is not subject to be given OR taken, in a election, no matter how big the vote was. Any citing of religion is irrelevant in a country that was founded with the separation of church and state. Judge Walker may be remembered in history as the turning point in the gay rights struggle, for his intelligent, and well thought-out ruling. Hooray!

Judge Walker did the right thing for all human by ending Prop 8 aka Prop Hate. End of argument.

Although I could care less if one was gay or not, I do not think they should be able to "marry". Marriage is about procreation, instead why not call it a union or something along those lines. Where it's recognized as the same, but called something different because of the fact that a man and man or woman and woman cannot procreate together.

I would still feel the same way if it were my son, daughter, sister, etc. I love my family and friends, but marriage is entirely different and should only be reserved for those that can procreate.

Just my opinion.

Wow - what is this world coming to? Equal rights for all people? What a bizarre concept - how subversive can things get? The next wild thing people will come up with is that equal rights are enshrined in the constitution of the United States.

We Voted Fair and square the first time. Why should things change again because people don't agree with with it.

Seems counter-prductive to put citizens through such a roller coaster ride. Why didn't California seek a court ruling from the highest court before Prop. 8 was ever considered in its legislature? In other countries, such steps are the norm. All parties could have proffered evidence then, saving the legislature from wasting its time on a bill that could never stand.

How is posible that one person (judge) step up over a desition of million of people that vote in favor of prop 8?
or is that this people care less about people;s detitions/

The majority ruled, we voted and won prop. 8. Impeach Judge Walker now!!

"All public law and public policy is developed from some moral perspective, the morality that society judges is important," he said. To say that society shouldn't base its laws on moral views is "hard to even comprehend," he said.

Exactly. It's immoral to deny the basic right of marriage to an entire group of people. Someone has to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, thank you Judge Walker.

Whatever side of the issue you're on, its a sad day for California and America, before the gay community begins to celebrate their victory, keep in mind that someday there will be an issue close or closer to their heart than same sex marriage that will be voted to their favor with some 7 million votes and one conservative judge will will overturn the vote of 7 million, that my friends is tyranny. Be careful with what you wish for!

On what basis is homosexuality a "biological status"? Where is the gay gene?

Judge Walker is a homosexual who does not want to be held accountable for his actions.

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