When the evidence for and against Proposition 8 is examined in detail, it becomes obvious just how little reason there was to single out gay and lesbian couples as the only ones to be barred from marrying. That kind of examination never took place during the bitter, frenzied 2008 campaign on the initiative. But this year, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker conducted a far more thoughtful inquiry during the federal trial challenging the measure. As a result, his decision Wednesday was not only welcome, but unsurprising.
Proposition 8 "fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," Walker wrote in his opinion. "Indeed, 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."
Judicial activism? Hardly. Walker's opinion was based on the evidence presented during the trial — including the testimony of witnesses who supported the ban on same-sex marriage. They tried to defend it as rational by arguing that it would protect traditional marriage from harm, that children are better off when raised by a mother and father, and that marriage exists for "responsible procreation."