Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the voter-approved Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, ruling that it violates due process and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” Walker wrote in his opinion.
“Race restrictions on marital partners were once common in most states but are now seen as archaic, shameful or even bizarre,” he added. “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.”
The judge added in the conclusion of the 136-page opinion: “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”
Response to the judge’s ruling ranged from outrage to joy. Those that support prop 8 are prepared to challenge the ruling. It is expected that this case will make its way up to the Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five U.S. states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire – and in the District of Colombia. Civil unions are permitted in New Jersey.