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We’re covering breaking news tonight out of California, where a federal judge today struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughan Walker said in his ruling: "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.”
The decision was met with strong reaction on both sides.
Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which helped bring the case against Proposition 8 said: "Any denial of freedom ... undermines the principles on which this country is founded."
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State: "This is a tremendous step forward for individual freedom and church-state separation. Aggressive and well-funded religious groups conspired to take away the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples in California. That was wrong, and I am delighted that the court has ruled the way it has."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins referred to the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in his response: "This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage."
And this, from Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America: "Marriage is not a political toy. It is too important to treat as a means for already powerful people to gain preferred status or acceptance. Marriage between one man and one woman undergirds a stable society and cannot be replaced by any other living arrangement."
A lengthy legal battle is ahead. Judge Walker granted Proposition 8 supporters a stay, essentially stopping his ruling from taking immediate effect. Many believe the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Tonight we’ll have the late reaction, celebration and protests underway right now in California and across the country.
We’ll also have the latest from the Gulf. BP says it believes the static kill did the job to seal its blown-out Macondo well. President Obama said the battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is “close to coming to an end.” A government report released today says 74 percent of the oil that was leaked has either been collected, has dispersed or has evaporated. That sounds great, right? But keep in mind the remaining 26 percent is about four times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Where exactly is that 26 percent? We’re keeping them honest.
President Obama turned 49 today. Tonight we’ll show you striking new numbers showing how many Americans still have doubts about where he was born and his citizenship.
In Virginia, an illegal immigrant who killed one nun and injured two others while driving drunk is facing deportation. The Bolivian man had prior DUI convictions. Local and congressional politicians are criticizing the federal government’s handling of the case, asking why the illegal immigrant hasn’t been deported.
His case is fueling support in Virginia for cracking down on illegal immigrants and possibly taking a page from Arizona. Joe Johns has the details tonight.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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