San Francisco federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop. 8, finding the California amendment that denied gays and lesbians the right to marry the partner of their choice unconstitutional. Walker noted in the ruling that Prop. 8 had no "rational basis"
and perpetuated the notion that homosexual unions are inferior to heterosexual ones. He also stated that same-sex couples' desire to marry adheres to the United States' marriage history and traditions
The judge put his decision on hold
until he can hear arguments concerning its practical implementation, which means gays and lesbians won't be able to marry immediately. The move may prevent a situation similar to one that happened in early 2008, when 18,000 gay couples tied the knot after a California Supreme Court ruling briefly allowed same-sex marriages in the state. The ruling sparked Prop. 8 and a lot of confusion about the legality of the marriages once the measure passed. The state still recognizes those unions. It will also give officials time to evaluate what would happen to post-Prop. 8 same sex unions in the wake of a successful appeal.
Prop. 8 supporters argued that gay marriages could not rationally be considered valid because children are best raised by a mother and a father. Witnesses to support that point, however, admitted during cross-examination same-sex couples could rear well-adjusted children just as well as straight parents. They also said marriage would benefit homosexual couples' family dynamics. Opponents of Prop. 8 cited the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment
, which prohibit governments from denying people the rights to life, liberty and property, and requires them to protect individuals equally under the law.
Nationwide rallies were planned in advance of Walker's decision and were scheduled to occur regardless of the outcome. The ruling is expected to be appealed by supporters on each side of the issue all the way up to the Supreme Court.