California joins ‘progressive’ Iowa?
August 8, 2010 1 Comment
The Federal District Court in San Francisco has overturned the same-sex marriage ban in California*, deeming it unconstitutional.
However, the chief judge, Vaughn R. Walker, “…immediately stayed his own decision, pending appeals by proponents of Proposition 8, who seem confident that higher courts would hear and favor their position”. Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have filed briefs to allow such marriages to take place now.
Indeed, this case is destined for the Supreme Court, and it is apparent that Justice Walker has sensed it as well. “…appeals court judges and the justices at the highest court in the land could find themselves boxed in by the careful logic and structure of [his] opinion” according to legal experts. “In his ruling, Judge Walker found that California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage irrationally discriminates against gay men and lesbians”, thus affecting their 14th Amendment rights.
In addition, he wrote “…that the Supreme Court has stated that government cannot enforce moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose.” In other words, what a contemporary society may find ‘immoral’ is not necessarily ‘illegal’.
With the current composition of the SCOTUS, it is quite likely that this ruling will be reversed. It could possibly “…turn on the court’s traditional swing vote, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has shaped decisions that struck down laws that discriminated against gay men and lesbians.”
*Prop 8, that banned such unions, had passed with 52% of the vote. According to a national Gallup poll in May 2010, 53% of Americans felt that “…marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?” 44% felt otherwise and 3% had no opinion.
UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, “Walker’s original nomination to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987 stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee because of controversy over his representation of the United States Olympic Committee in a lawsuit that prohibited the use of the title “Gay Olympics”. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged “insensitivity” to gays and the poor. Years later, the San Francisco Chronicle noted the irony of this opposition due to Walker’s sexual orientation.”
He was nominated to the bench, again, by George H.W. Bush. He received a unanimous Senate confirmation this time.