So, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the US Constitution, and in a quite concise, sweeping manner.
Currently the decision is stayed temporarily, so no one can run off to get married in California yet. It's believed likely the stay will be made more permanent until all appeals (including to the Supreme Court) are exhausted, but I'm hoping not. We'll see sometime next week.
His 136 page ruling is very readable by a non-lawyer and goes into exquisite detail regarding the merits of both the defense and plaintiffs in the case. Hint: There wasn't a lot of merit in the defense (pro-prop 8) case.
You can find a link to the PDF of the ruling as well as a link to the evidence (including video evidence) here.
The ruling incorporates 80 findings of fact in the case which will be very important during the appeals process. The finding of law can be disregarded during appeal, but the findings of fact cannot, unless they are found to be demonstrably false.
Here are a select few I've cut/pasted, but I really encourage you to read the ruling yourself. The ruling provides a good overview of the evidence and testimony presented - useful if you did not follow the trial as closely as I and others at the The Prop8 Trial Tracker site did :)
So, here are some of the findings of fact:
18. Protect Marriage is a “broad coalition” of individuals and
organizations, including the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints (the “LDS Church”), the California Catholic
Conference and a large number of evangelical churches.
19. Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter.
Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize
marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil
marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently
whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that
recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship
under state law.
21. California, like every other state, has never required that
individuals entering a marriage be willing or able to
The defense claimed that the ability to procreate was the fundamental reason for excluding LGBT's from being able to marry.
27. Marriage between a man and a woman was traditionally organized
based on presumptions of a division of labor along gender
lines. Men were seen as suited for certain types of work and
women for others. Women were seen as suited to raise children
and men were seen as suited to provide for the family.
33. Eliminating gender and race restrictions in marriage has not
deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality.
42. Same-sex love and intimacy are well-documented in human
history. The concept of an identity based on object desire;
that is, whether an individual desires a relationship with
someone of the opposite sex (heterosexual), same sex
(homosexual) or either sex (bisexual), developed in the late
44. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic
of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a
person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that
defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents’
assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is
contrary to the weight of the evidence.
46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation.
No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual
may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or
any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
52. Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with
marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive
expression of love and commitment in the United States.
55. Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the
number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit,
have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the
stability of opposite-sex marriages.
58. Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against
gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have
intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays
and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and
lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of
62. Proposition 8 does not affect the First Amendment rights of
those opposed to marriage for same-sex couples. Prior to
Proposition 8, no religious group was required to recognize
marriage for same-sex couples.
67. Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates
their unequal treatment. Proposition 8 perpetuates the
stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming
long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are
not good parents.
74. Gays and lesbians have been victims of a long history of
75. Public and private discrimination against gays and lesbians
occurs in California and in the United States.
76. Well-known stereotypes about gay men and lesbians include a
belief that gays and lesbians are affluent, self-absorbed and
incapable of forming long-term intimate relationships. Other
stereotypes imagine gay men and lesbians as disease vectors or
as child molesters who recruit young children into
homosexuality. No evidence supports these stereotypes.
77. Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are
sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and
79. The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children
exposed to the concept of same-sex marriage may become gay or
lesbian. The reason children need to be protected from samesex
marriage was never articulated in official campaign
advertisements. Nevertheless, the advertisements insinuated
that learning about same-sex marriage could make a child gay
or lesbian and that parents should dread having a gay or
80. The campaign to pass Proposition 8 relied on stereotypes to
show that same-sex relationships are inferior to opposite-sex
So, that was a few more than I wanted to include, but actually it was hard to not include them all except the first 15 or so which simply make statements of fact regarding the identities and expertise of the witnesses.
Here is the conclusion part of the ruling, which I thought would be nice to include here:
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 oppositesex
couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California
has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and
because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its
constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,
the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Predictably, the religious right is all up in arms about this decision. One of the most amusing for me was from Maggie Galleger, Chairperson of the mis-named National Organisation for Marriage (NOM). Who said in part:
If this ruling is upheld, millions of Americans will face for the first time a legal system that is committed to the view that our deeply held moral views on sex and marriage are unacceptable in the public square, the fruit of bigotry that should be discredited, stigmatized and repressed. Parents will find that, almost Soviet-style, their own children will be re-educated using their own tax dollars to disrespect their parents' views and values.Love the references to Soviet Style, re-education camps, and other nutbaggery.
Read her whole screed at San Francisco Chronicle if you can stomach it.
In my humble opinion, history was made on August 4th, 2010. The The Prop8 Trial Tracker has a ton of articles, comments and links if you want to learn more.
Yes, I partied! :)