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Excerpts from the judge's ruling overturning Prop. 8

August 05, 2010

Excerpts from the federal court decision that found Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution:

On why the initiative was struck down:

Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, as excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.

Rather, the evidence shows that Proposition 8 harms the state's interest in equality, because it mandates that men and women be treated differently based only on antiquated and discredited notions of gender.

Moreover, the state cannot have an interest in disadvantaging an unpopular minority group simply because the group is unpopular.

A private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples is not proper basis for legislation.

Here, the purported state interests fit so poorly with Proposition 8 that they are irrational. … What is left is evidence that Proposition 8 enacts a moral view that there is something "wrong" with same-sex couples.

The evidence at trial … uncloaks the most likely explanation for its passage: a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples.

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.

On why voters cannot ban gay marriage:

That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as "fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote."

On why the state has an interest in fostering marriage:

Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple's choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents.

On whether homosexuality is a choice:

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.

Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners.

On why domestic partnerships are an inadequate substitute for marriage:

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.

On social stigmas involved in the case:

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.

On whether gay parents can be good parents:

The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted.

On the campaign for Proposition 8:

The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children exposed to the concept of same-sex marriage may become gay or lesbian. … 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 lesbian child.

On whether the state promotes marriage to encourage the birth of children:

Never has the state inquired into procreative capacity or intent before issuing a marriage license; indeed, a marriage license is more than a license to have procreative sexual intercourse.

On the judge's response to the definition of marriage as between a man and woman:

Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.

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