California’s ban on gay marriage is knocked over by a federal judge, saying the voter-approved initiative violates both the due-process and equal-protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker‘s ruling does not make gay marriage legal in California immediately. The effect of the decision is on hold while Walker decides whether it should be suspended as defendants appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In January and June, Walker heard from both sides in a unique proceeding intended to make factual findings on the purpose and history of marriage and how allowing gays and lesbians to marry would affect society. Befitting a trial on one of the most contentious issues of our time, the affair featured high-powered lawyers, emotional testimony both for and against gay marriage, arguments over evidence and over cameras in the courtroom, and extremely high stakes. The case is likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. The Prop. 8 trial has been unique in its execution and scope; the judge truly looked for a factual record on marriage. Theodore Olson and David Boies — the lawyers who opposed each other before the Supreme Court in 2000 in Bush v. Gore — teamed up to argue on behalf of four homosexual plaintiffs that Prop. 8 violates the rights of gays and lesbians under what’s called the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.