August 5th, 2010
12:21 PM ET

Opinion: Prop 8 ruling adds meaning to my marriage

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/art.prop8.jpg caption="Same Sex Marriage Ban in California ruled unconstitutional."]

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christopher Wolf, a privacy lawyer in Washington.

Christopher Wolf
Special to CNN

Two federal judges have made an important difference in my life recently. I am a lawyer, and judges' rulings frequently have a professional effect. But this time, it's personal.

This spring, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia officiated at my marriage to my partner of 13 years, Jim, under the laws of the District of Columbia, where we live. On Wednesday, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California denying same-sex marriage violated fundamental legal rights guaranteed by law.

His ruling has given my marriage even greater meaning. The restoration of rights to others and the further recognition of the right to marry makes the enjoyment of our rights even more fulfilling.

Judge Walker wrote in a 136-page decision that Prop 8 violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution, concluding:

"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."

That, of course, is not the last word on the subject, as appeals to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and to the United States Supreme Court are expected. But, the thorough analysis following a lengthy trial and the thorough recognition of the right to same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional law creates a high barrier for opponents to surmount.

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Filed under: Opinion • Proposition 8 • Same-Sex Marriage
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. michael price-brown

    Congratulations to you both! Clayton and I were the second couple in our county here in CA to be married back on 6-17-08. We were ecstatic. And then came Prop 8. It horrified me to realize we could be living in a state of such hatred. But the 18,000 couples that married prior to Prop 8 were allowed to remain married. So, for all this time, I've felt both elated and saddened. Elated because we are still married, saddened that friends "missed the moment". Here we are today, Prop 8 being recognized for exactly what it was: hatred, bigotry and blatant discrimination. I commend all involved, and especially Judge Vaughn Walker for making this such a clear case. Of course there will be appeals, but with his strongly worded decision, it will be hard to be second guessed. And the longer we 18,000 still legally married couples continue to be married, the less valid the arguments become. Civilization has not stopped. We still have day, night, sun and rain. Now, too, there's a little more love in the world.

    August 6, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  2. Downliv

    God Bless America, land of the FREE!

    August 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  3. Ryan


    First, thank you for the show and your honest reporting on CNN. I watch it every night.

    My comment is for the question regarding why should a judge be able to over rule the people of California's choice. The fact of the matter is that this is a stupid debate. Discrimination in this world has really got to stop. And for the 52% of Californians who voted in support of Prop 8, well they don't speak for me. I live my life the way I choose, and it no way affects Maggie Gallagher. It doesn't even affect my own family, who don't support my lifestyle, but at the same time, want me to be happy and have the same rights as they have been given. In what way am I different than Maggie Gallagher? If anything, we have more in common because we both like sleeping with men. I may not be the best parent in her eyes, but some day I hope to be the best parent (or uncle) the best I can, and unless that child dies due to my negligence, then I am doing just fine. She doesn't speak for me or the rest of the LGBT community. Being tagged as "not normal" is so degrading and discriminating. She is brewing hatred and we really need to move past this and give everyone their basic civil rights.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Bill

    "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."

    It needs acknowledging that this was the heterosexual's purpose in this fight all along. To 'prove' to themselves, as well as their gay children, that they are better than us.

    And clearly this the Constitution does not permit.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm |