Gay marriage ban overturned(2010-08-16 12:02:03)
LOS ANGELES - A FEDERAL judge overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, the latest dramatic twist in a legal saga that could have nationwide implications for the divisive social issue.
In a written opinion, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of rights activists who argued that a November 2008 referendum which barred gays and lesbians from tying the knot was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution. The referendum, known as Proposition 8, was passed by a 52 per cent majority only six months after California's Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex weddings triggering a flood of same-sex marriages.
However, Judge Walker wrote in a ruling that Proposition 8 failed to 'advance any rational basis' to deny gay men and lesbians 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,' Judge Walker wrote.
'Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.' Opponents of same-sex marriage had already signalled they would appeal Walker's decision if it went against them.
Judge Walker later issued a ruling granting a temporary stay of his order until Friday, allowing opponents of same-sex marriage time to file appeals and appearing to bar an immediate resumption of weddings between gays and lesbians in the most populous US state. Gay rights activists meanwhile praised the decision but warned they were ready for further legal battles ahead, with analysts predicting it could be years before the last of the inevitable appeals are heard.
'There are more legal challenges, debates and votes to come,' said Lorri Jean, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.