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Prop 8, gay marriage ban, overturned

August 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Proposition 8, California's controversial voter-approved gay marriage ban, was struck down by a federal judge on Wednesday in a ruling that deemed the ban unconstitutional.Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 136-page decision ruled that the same-sex marriage ban violates equal protection and due process rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The decision stems from a lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, brought by two same-sex couples seeking to overturn California Proposition 8 the marriage ban approved by voters in November 2008. The ruling is the first in federal court to look at gay marriage.

The federal judge, an appointee of President George Bush Sr., heard two and a half weeks of testimony in January with closing arguments in June.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement shortly after the decision was handed down, applauding the verdict.

"Love does not discriminate and that marriage is a civil right, not a privilege reserved for a select class of citizens. The decision handed down today in Perry v. Schwarzenegger reaffirms the notion that separate is never equal," the mayor said in the statement.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also praised the verdict in a statement.

"This decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves," he said.

Despite the favorable ruling for same-sex couples, gay marriage will not immediately resume, as the judge granted Prop. 8 supporters a stay of the court's judgment while advocates pursue their appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments by Aug. 6 on the issue.

Both sides have vowed to appeal the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supporters say that the ban is necessary to safeguard their traditional understanding of marriage, but opponents say it's a violation of gay and lesbian civil rights.

"This just pushes back on what I think is everyone's right to fall in love. I think we all should love who we love and no one should tell us that I can't have what my parents have," said Ricardo Ferrise, a gay marriage supporter.

"We are defending the union between a man and a woman and the environment in which children are raised in the better way when they grow with their mom and their dad. That's going to be better for children, so that's our main interest," said Netz Gomez of Protect Marriage.

"If we change the definition of marriage, that is going to affect our children. So basically, we're trying to defend the children that will be adopted or raised by a couple who are not actually their mom and dad," Gomez added.

Supporters say that the ban is necessary to safeguard their traditional understanding of marriage, but opponents say it's a violation of gay and lesbian civil rights.

The Proposition 8 initiative was the most expensive campaign on a social issue in U.S. history, with each side spending roughly $40 million. It was approved by 52 percent of California voters in November of 2008. The initiative surpassed every campaign in the country in terms of spending, except the presidential contest.

Most legal experts say they expect this decision to ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

In an exclusive ABC7 Eyewitness News/SurveyUSA poll, 500 adults were asked the following questions:

Should same-sex couples be able to share in the legal benefits of marriage, such as the right to inherit property and the right to make medical decisions for one another? Or should the legal benefits of marriage be restricted only to couples consisting of a man and a woman?

  • 64% Same-sex couples
  • 33% Man and woman
  • 3% Not sure

Based on what you know, are gay people born gay? Or do they choose to be gay?

  • 50% Born gay
  • 36% Choose to be gay
  • 14% Not sure

In California, should Proposition 8 remain law? Or should Proposition 8 be overturned?

  • 43% Remain law
  • 42% Be overturned
  • 15% Not sure

A federal judge has held that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Do you agree or disagree with the decision?

  • 43% Agree
  • 46% Disagree
  • 11% Not sure

(The margin of sampling error for these questions is +/- 4.5%)

Eyewitness News reporter Leanne Suter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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