August 5th, 2010
03:45 PM ET

Opinion: The surprising religious divides on Proposition 8

Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox. Dr. Robert P. Jones is the CEO and Daniel Cox is the Director of Research for Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/art.vert.prop8.graph2.jpg caption="The survey was conducted among a random sample of Californians by telephone between June 14 and June 30, 2010, by the Public Religion Research Institute." width=292 height=320]
The ruling yesterday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker that Proposition 8 violates the constitution highlights the shifting attitudes in California and in the nation over the legality of same-sex marriage. A major public opinion survey released last month by our firm, Public Religion Research Institute, casts important light on the changing religious landscape on this issue, with some surprising findings.

The PRRI survey of more than 3,000 Californians found that if Proposition 8 were on the ballot today, it would not pass.

A majority (51 percent) of Californians now say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 45 percent who say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.

Despite the fact that the debate over same-sex marriage is often framed as one between secular liberals and conservative people of faith, we found that there are major religious groups on both sides of the battle over Proposition 8 in California. Solid majorities of Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants, along with a majority of white Catholics, say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. On the other hand, solid majorities of African American Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, and Latino Protestants say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Proposition 8 • Same-Sex Marriage
August 5th, 2010
12:39 PM ET
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.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Opinion • Proposition 8 • Same-Sex Marriage
August 5th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

iReport Gallery: A northern lights show

The spectacular northern lights in Norway. Otto Lennart Motzke, 42, of Oslo, Norway took this photo Wednesday night at about 2am at Ingerstrand Bad, a public bath in Oslo.

Here are more photos of the northern lights submitted to iReport.

Taken by Wictor Madsen in Grimstad, Norway.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • iReport • Space • Weather
August 5th, 2010
10:53 AM ET
August 5th, 2010
10:41 AM ET
August 5th, 2010
10:29 AM ET
August 5th, 2010
09:52 AM ET

Letters to the President #563: 'Well, well...the well is closed at last'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/art.vert.obamabday.jpg width=292 height=320]Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama celebrated his birthday and I forgot to send a card. This is so embarrassing. But then, he never writes back to me, and I’ve sent more than 500 letters…shouldn’t that kind of even out?

Dear Mr. President,

I can’t believe I missed your birthday! I am so sorry. About as sorry as I am about this continuing kerfuffle over where you were born. I understand that some folks just can’t let go of this notion that somehow you illegally took the office, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but I can’t help but wonder: What do they think would happen even if that were the case? That you’d be thrown out?

Despite all the turmoil you have faced and the very real complaints some folks have with your politics and policies, I think if you whipped out a copy of a birth certificate that plainly showed you were from another planet at this point we would still be hard pressed as a nation to push a sitting Chief Executive out of the chair.

Anyway, sorry again for missing your birthday. When I get home, give me a buzz and we’ll go on a Krispy Kreme run to celebrate belatedly.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/art.vert.krispykreme.jpg width=292 height=320]
Speaking of runs, I want to tell you what I did this morning. As part of my continuing quest to get ready for my half marathon next month, I’ve been taking some long runs down here this week. I start around dawn to avoid the worst heat. This morning, I wound my way through the French Quarter over to Esplanade Avenue, and turned away from the river to run deeper into town. It was really so lovely trotting past all these cool old houses on my way up to City Park. Many of them have “for sale” or “for rent” signs, so I spent a lot of time imagining what I would do with each one. I passed the place where Edgar Degas painted for a year or so and I stopped to read the plaque outside.

People smiled and said hello, and the miles wound away. I saw a lot of cats in windows, and many old landmarks that reminded me of my years living here, and made me think about doing so again.

Out in the park I circled the Art Museum (which is quite nice, if you ever get a chance to visit,) passed the pavilion where my band played its last gig (last song: Let’s Go), and cut over the bayou as I headed back. It was about an eight mile loop and by the time I reached the Quarter again, I was sweating like Secretariat. I bought a bag of fruit from a street vendor; a banana, an apple, and three plums for two dollars and starting eating them while I walked and cooled down. I had read before starting that the oil well in the Gulf had finally been killed, and I was pleased by the news. Then, walking through the Quarter, basking in the still early morning glow of this glorious city, I heard distant church bells playing Now Thank We All Our God. No kidding. And I thought, yes, that seems about right.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

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