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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) _ U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban, a landmark case in which a lawsuit was filed by two gay couples who claimed they had their civil rights violated.
In his 136 page decision, Walker said Proposition 8 violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Sandra Stier, a plaintiff in the case said she is ecstatic.
“Tomorrow, because of this decision, I will know that we are treated in the law just like everybody else,” she said.
But Daniel Blomberg, Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund said Walker is trying to overturn democracy.
“It’s the issue of respecting and upholding the right of free people to make policy choices through the democratic process,” he said.
Walker heard 13 days of testimony and arguments since January during the first trial in federal court to examine if states can prohibit gays from getting married.
The plaintiffs presented 18 witnesses. Academic experts testified about topics ranging from the fitness of gay parents and religious views on homosexuality to the historical meaning of marriage and the political influence of the gay rights movement.
Defense lawyers called just two witnesses, claiming they did not need to present expert testimony because U.S. Supreme Court precedent was on their side. The attorneys also said gay marriage was an experiment with unknown social consequences that should be left to voters to accept or reject.
Click here for Judge Vaughn Walker’s Ruling
Judge Also Issues Temporary Stay
Along with the ruling, Judge Walker also issued a temporary stay, suspending the ruling until he has had time to consider a request by the supporters of Proposition 8 for a longer-term stay while they appeal his decision.
That means that no marriage licenses will be issued to same sex couples until Walker reaches a decision on the stay.
He has ordered lawyers for the two same-sex couples who challenged Proposition 8 to respond to the request for a stay by Friday.
He said he may then decide whether to grant a further stay without holding a hearing.
What’s Next for Proposition 8?
It has long been assumed that the Prop 8 case would end up in the lap of the highest court in the land, but that may not be the case.
If an appeal is filed as expected, the first stop will be the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has been labeled as one of the most liberal appellate courts in the nation.
But Hastings College of the Law professor and former 9th Circuit clerk Lois Weithorn said it depends on the kind of judges pulled for the panel.
“They will go through a process that will likely take about a year before the 9th Circuit will hear the case,” she said. “Given the prestige and skill of the lawyers who have represented the gay and lesbian couples, most likely, these lawyers will continue to represent them.”
After a 9th Circuit ruling, it’s expected that the case will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, but Weithorn said that’s not automatic.
“The Supreme Court may want to wait to see what our circuits do. It’s unclear whether or not this case will ultimately appear before the U.S. Supreme Court on this go-round or whether we’ll have to see similar cases emerging from other circuits before the U.S. Supreme Court will accept it.”