August 4th, 2010
12:54 PM ET

Judge rules California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional

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A federal judge in California on Wednesday overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying the voter-approved rule violated the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

The decision, issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, is an initial step in what will likely be a lengthy legal fight over California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

At stake in the trial was whether California's ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process of two gay couples that want to marry.

The case was watched closely by both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is likely to wind its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could end in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry people of the same sex.

"We are thrilled with today's ruling, which affirms that the protections enshrined in our U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans and that our dream of equality and freedom deserves protection," said Geoff Kors, executive director for Equality California, shortly after the decision.

Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, along with Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami, are the two couples at the heart of the case, which if appealed would go next to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before possibly heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Outside a San Francisco courthouse, a small group of same-sex marriage supporters waited for the decision. They waved flags and carried signs that read: "We all deserve the freedom to marry." Rallies were planned for later in the day.

Proposition 8 is part of a long line of seesaw rulings, court cases, debates and protests in California over the hotly debated issue of same-sex marriage. It passed with some 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.

Prior to Wednesday's decision, Rick Jacobs, founder of the Campaign Courage, which supports same-sex marriage, said he was hopeful about the possibility of victory, but prepared for a long legal battle.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Proposition 8 • Raw Politics • Same-Sex Marriage • T1
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Martina Vickers

    The Ninth Amendment............. plain and simple....... apparently the judge did!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  2. Mike

    Once again the majority may be overuled! Activist judges have all the power, what a shame!

    August 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  3. angel

    Any judge that makes a decision based on facts would rule that this proposition is unconstitutional. The fact is simple that Prop 8 alters the California constitution to single out an entire class of people and strip their civil right to marry away. This is not the intent of the State constitution, and certainly not the intent of the federal constitution. I have not been able to marry my partner because of this proposition, and it sickens me that people would vote that I do not deserve the right to marry the person I love. Judge Walker will rule fairly based on FACTS, and my partner and I will get married as soon as it is becomes legally possible to do so in the state of CA.

    August 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  4. Damon

    All people want is to be treated equally. Who would be opposed to that?

    August 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  5. JoAnne

    Oh please let them get married and be done with it,who are they hurting?? No one and if they live together for all of their lives let them be able to collect benefits from the other spouse.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm |