"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," federal Judge Vaughn Walker wrote. So one judge overturned a measure approved by 52 percent of California voters in 2008 and upheld by the California Supreme Court in a 6-1 ruling.
Some Californians will see this decision as the work of an elitist gay judge imposing his pre-ordained political views on voters. They can point to the fact that Walker issued controversial pretrial rulings on procedural issues that favored the plaintiffs contesting Proposition 8 -- only to be overturned on appeal.
For Walker's part, he issued a temporary stay on his decision. So one judge will not have the last word on Proposition 8. Gay activists are ecstatic, but I don't think you'll see Mayor Gavin Newsom on City Hall's steps crowing, "It's going to happen -- whether you like it or not," which is what Newsom said when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2008. (To recap, the state's top court overturned a gay marriage ban in May 2008, but upheld Proposition 8 after voters put it in the state constitution in November.)"Whether you like it or not." While Proposition 8 opponents style themselves as champions of tolerance, they've chosen judicial fiat over the slower, surer route of persuasion.
Walker summed up support for Proposition 8 as emanating from "a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples." Wrong. Voters have reason to be afraid lest legalizing same-sex marriage result in unintended consequences -- such as the legalization of polygamy, as recommended by a Canadian panel commissioned to debunk the same-sex-marriage-legitimizes-polygamy argument.
Barring a backlash, you would expect state voters to approve same-sex marriage within the decade -- which would avoid lasting rancor over a court-imposed decision. Instead, Walker went with: Whether you like it or not.