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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)

It's all about checks and balances. Equality for ALL!

MARRIAGE IS OVER RATE !!!!...................Single and always ready to mingel

If the state would just get out of the marriage business, we could all move on to more important issues. If everyone has an inate right to marry whomever or whatever they choose, why would the state have any business being involved? I include the Federal government in my definition of state. How easily everything falls into place if marriage were handed back to religion! It would positively impact the social security deficit, taxes get simpler, employee benefits get cheaper for the employer. Single people would end the systemic discrimination against them as a bonus.

Yes, majority rules in this country but not when discrimination is involved. Everyone has the right to live whatever lifestyle they want. I don't understand why it bothers people.

Good call Judge Walker!

What is WRONG with you people asking about the "votes"? Decrying this judge's conclusions because he "overturns" your vote? Your vote was ill conceived in the first place.

Have you never had a civics lesson? This is a Republic. We have a United States Constitution, which always, always, always trumps state law. Judges are tasked with interpreting the Constitution, and there is an appellate system designed to take action if lower court decisions are proven inadmissible.

You cannot vote something that challenges the Constitution. You can't. You CANNOT. It is against the Constitution. The Constitution is the end-all, be-all of American law.

Until you get that through your head, you will never understand what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was invariably what had to happen, and will continue to happen. You don't get to "vote" on civil rights. That is not America.

Let's be straight here (as it were): The 14th amendment assures every citizen "equal protection of the laws." What does this mean? Simple: any law on the books applies equally to all people. What do the marriage laws say? They say the institution of marriage is meant for one man and one woman. If I want to marry three men and one woman, I can't. Neither can gays. If a man wants to marry another man, he cannot. Neither can I. The law applies equally to us all. Marriage laws do NOT say anyone can marry anyone they choose. I cannot marry someone already married, neither can gays. I cannot marry my son, neither can gays marry theirs. I cannot marry a horse. Neither can gays. I cannot even marry just anyone I happen to "love" and who claims to love me. I might be completely head-over-heels in love with a 13 year old girl who wants to spend her life with me; that's too bad. We can't marry for five more years. Neither can a gay man marry her. When gays are denied a marriage license, it's because they are asking for a license to do something the rules disallow. I cannot get a license to pour motor oil down the storm drain, but I can get one to do home improvement work. The rules allow the latter, but not the former.

Someone said Majority rules ? The Majority at one time wanted SLAVES, the Majority at one time wanted WOMEN to be property and have NO vote, the Majority at one time wanted INSANITY , where do YOU stand ?

The real victims of gay marriage are the children raised by gay couples. No matter how loving a gay couple may be to the children they are raising, the fact remains that such an arrangement inherently denies such children either a mother or a father. Nature is narrow, and has been since the beginning of time.

I wish the money going to the attorneys in this fight could be used for more worthy endevours. Something tells me when the revalation comes, God is going to be more concerned with what you did for the truly worthy, than how you made a bunch of rich attorneys even richer.

Steve... Putting the Bible and your biased opinions aside... If you were in a minority group, would you prefer the majority voting on YOUR rights? Please, by all means put yourself in our shoes. Cautiously think about it before you respond. Concerning a Civil Right, no majority has the right to vote on a minority group's rights. We do our civic duty, pay taxes, eat breath and sleep the same way you do. What harm are we doing to you or your family? Honestly? Is it just because we're different that you don't like us? I don't have any hatred towards those who think ill of me or my lifestyle...because you're not that important to me to waste any energy losing sleep over. I would however, like to understand your rationale for such comments.

why should we vote our vote counts for nothing maybe we ought to overturn obamas win as president we have to put a stop to this

The definition of Democracy, especially in the context of civil rights, is not "majority rule". To the contrary, Democracy's true spirit is to protect members of a minority from being overrun by the majority.

The overturning of Prop. 8 is a great victory for Democracy, even if a large group of sexually repressed, homophobic, delusional religious crackpots do not agree.

Why are you people so goddamn hell-bent on denying equal rights to other human beings? Why does it matter so much to you? No one is taking away your rights, just extending the same ones to everybody else.

Stop being ridiculous. Stop acting as if this is an affront to your rights. Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You are discriminating against people based on their sexual preference. How is that legal? How can a law be passed to legalize such discrimination?

You disgust me. I am sorry I share a nationality with you people. I'm sorry that I am lumped together with bigots like yourselves by citizens of other countries. You are an embarrassment to the human race for actively choosing to deny a personal right to others just because you're stupid enough to think it will somehow negatively affect you. Homosexuality has been a presence in human society for thousands of years. Your adamant atrocious behavior to deny marriage to homosexuals is not going to stamp it out, or force it to go underground and away from you. Open your eyes and minds. They are still people. Humans. Living creatures. The same as you. The only difference is their preference of a sexual partner. How is that relevant to anything in your life? How does that affect you? It doesn't.

This country is based on rights to everyone who has done nothing to forgo them. Being a homosexual does not forgo one's rights to be married. It should not be called anything different just because that's what you want. Marriage is not defined as anything but a union between two people. If you want to say man and woman, go live in a theocracy. Go live in a Middle Eastern country, where Islam is the law. But don't sit here and try to change the governmental process. A vote was passed, an atrocity, and it was sent to the California Supreme Court, which has the right to overrule it if it is deemed unconstitutional. Don't sit here and bitch and moan because something which should have been legal a long time ago is finally legal. If it was put before judge, he has the authority to overrule it, majority or not. Learn some politics before you speak, ignorants.

You are terrible people, and I hope you figure that out the hard way, some day in the future. Stop trying to act superior. Your attitude is that of a petulant six year old who was told by Mommy that they couldn't eat ice cream before dinner, even though Daddy said they could.

I really hate every single one of you bigots. Actually...I feel sorry for you more than anything. And I hope you are all "cursed" (as you probably see it) with a gay child or grandchild or family member, and then watch them suffer the hate and prejudice spat at them. Then see how it feels.

Tryanny of the majority at its finest. A majority should never be able to determine the rights of the minority. Denying same sex couples marriage is textbook discrimination.


I do worship a God who Hates... A god who hates injustice, suffering, & violence. I worship a God who loves the creation that he made, yet hates how some people use their lives to take drugs, abuse their spouses, to take advantage of an innocent person...

If someone worships a God who doesn't "hate" the imperfection and wickedness in this world today... then i feel sorry for their fate...

Kevin: "The real victims of gay marriage are the children..."

Those kids were made "victims" by divorce, premature death, and abandonment well before gay couples took to raising them. Do you have solutions to end these problems, Kevin? No? Then gays may as well be raising the kids left behind. Society has never been limited to only the ideal, and neither has nature (which is rather broad, actually) for that matter.

Why so much concern about how other people live their lives?

If you don't like gay marriage don't get one.

You can't oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. This isn't Iran. Nor can you avoid the Equal Protection clause because "most" people oppose it. This is the only country that guarantees the pursuit of happiness. Its ludicrous that some people think they have the right to limit that right because they disapprove of gays.

Can we get back to things that make a difference now? Gargantuan deficits, state and city budgets being consumed by union pensions, and keeping Jerry Brown anywhere but sacramento.

The will of the people was heard through the vote on Propostion 8. It just happened that the voters' choice was UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

So many people upset because "their vote doesn't count for anything"! Just because a majority voted for the proposition doesn't mean it's constitutional. The proposition system is just majority rule, not democracy. Democracy is electing representatives to make laws, not making laws by direct popular vote. Many laws passed by propositions have been overturned.

It is a shame that so many people are accusing Judge Walker of being a "tyrant" for "overturning the vote of millions who voted for Prop 8." We fortunately live in a government whose different branches serve as a system of checks and balances to ensure that the Constitutional rights are protected. If there is a law that is passed by a slight majority (52%) to take away the rights of the minority, the judicial branch is there to ensure that the majority does not take away the rights of the minority.

Reading the hateful bigotry, I thank God the judiciary is there to protect us from ourselves.

the courts have over steped there bounds....speration of chuarch n state.....the bible is the oldest know word on marriage towit the chuarch has presadent over marriage not a court of law.....cant have it bouth ways

Zach, I agree that gay marriage is not the only situation where a child can be left without a mother or father, however, it is in fact the only arrangement that GUARANTEES such a fate for children. If you agree that children without a mother or father is a bad thing then why would you favor such an arrangement? Would that not be adding to the problems you cite?

To all of you who keep saying "we voted," "majority rules," and all that nonsense... read the judge's ruling... taken directly from numerous prior Supreme Court cases - “We do not submit constitutional rights to a vote, or to a poll of public opinion.” Our rights should never have been submitted to a vote PERIOD, and, again, from the opinion, "one's moral opinion alone is not justification for denial of rights." Your right to be free to sound off on this comment board wasn't granted by a "popular vote" either... rights are rights... and we gay men and lesbians don't deserve them any less than anyone else does. Would you like to put your right to bear arms or your right to spout off on this board or the right of your church to exist and be vocal to a "majority vote?" Seriously, is this country becoming Iran?

If Judge Walker should have recused himself as a gay judge, then so should any heterosexual judge recuse himself or herself in the appeal.

As for the people who keep shrieking about majority rules and the people have spoken, how would they like their own personal lives subject to a vote? The Prop 8 supporters have made a big deal about "What will the children learn about all this?" Do they really want children to learn that a majority is always automatically in the right? That civil rights not only can be but should be a matter to vote on?

Those who argue that marriage has always meant one thing for thousands of years are not telling the truth; neither are the ones who say they have nothing against gay people (this is usually followed by a specification of what they have against gay people).

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