By J. DeVoy
Vaughn Walker, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, has ruled in a monster 136-page opinion that Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment rights of same-sex couples. The full order can be found here.
The decision is significant, especially on the heels of the District of Massachusetts striking down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act. In contrast, Wisconsin ruled in June that its gay marriage ban, memorialized in the state’s constitution as a separate amendment, was constitutional. Despite the inconsistency of courts across the country, today’s decision indicates that the fundamental right to marry applies to all people.
Although Proposition 8 has been held unconstitutional and its enforcement enjoined, same-sex marriage currently is legal only in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C. California, the nation’s most populous state, may soon join that list.
As usual, Above The Law chimes in with its great analysis of the decision. The court found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. However, the entry of judgment has been stayed until the motion to stay pending appeal is decided, per the case’s docket.
Because an appeal seems to already be in the works, and the 9th Circuit’s unique relationship with the Supreme Court and rest of the country, there’s speculation that the case will ultimately make it to One First Street. The timeline for these maneuvers remains to be seen, and the composition of the Supreme Court could change radically by the time this case makes it there. Today, though, there has been victory not only for the LGBTQ community and its allies, but for the whole notion of equality.