Around the World

It Could Go Both Ways

Chad W. Lutz
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Back in August, U.S District Court Judge Vaughn Walker made a ruling striking down the notorious Proposition 8, triggering wide spread debate, and, more importantly, civil suits. We’re not talking polyester here.

Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 by California voters as a constitutional amendment to Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights citing, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Since its inception the bill has been under nothing but constant scrutiny and a hotbed of legal tension.

The legal battle that begins on December 6th might very well decide the fate of the definition of “Marriage” as we know it. In May of 2009, two same-sex couples challenged the passing of Prop 8 by suing the 9th District Federal Court. Four days later the State Supreme Court would uphold the constitutional amendment, but allow for same-sex couples already married to be declared and recognized “valid.”

Currently, only five states in the United States honor (or consider “valid”) Same-Sex marriages: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The District of Columbia also recognizes Same-Sex marriages. In 2004, eleven states rallied to ban citizens the rights to Same-Sex marriages, a list that includes Ohio, among many others (Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, Utah, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Michigan).

In January, a federal non-jury trial began in Judge Vaughn Walker’s courtroom to deliberate and debate the constitutionality of the bill. On April 4th Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional and the rainbows came out to play. And came out they did.

Back in 1996, support of Same-Sex marriage was sparse. According to a recent May Gallup Poll, 68% of Americans polled felt that Same-Sex marriage should not be legal. Compare that to today’s statistic that shows a much more even score; now only 53% opposed to 44% in favor. Also in the 2010 survey, 70% of those who opposed said religion played a “very important” part in their decision.

A little over four months later, Judge Vaughn Walker felt he still had some unfinished deliberation to carry out. And in order to do so, put an indefinite stay on the lifted ruling until further ruling could be made.

In response to his ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker stated the fact that the majority of California voters supported Prop 8 is, “irrelevant.” His ruling came after 13 weeks at trial to decide the constitutional fate of the proposed bill.

On September 17th, Reagan-era Justice Department attorney and leading attorney for proponents of the bill, Charles Cooper, issued a 75 page written defense of the bill. Housed within its pages is the argument that Homosexuality is a highly ambiguous and “complex phenomenon that defies consistent and uniform definition.” He argues that what it means to be “Gay” and the experiences someone must go through in order to be considered (for these intensive purposes) legally homosexual can’t rightfully be qualitatively summed up in a line or two, thus making it impossible to actually determine what constitutes, “Gay.”

The most prevalent precedence being heard in the case is the 2003 ruling Lawrence V. Texas that struck down the Longhorn State’s longstanding Sodomy laws, citing moral condemnation as not just cause alone for the denial of rights to citizens. Its decision was viewed as a victory for the Gay Community. But the road to retribution is still long and winding.

Now October, proponents and opposition of the issue prepare for December 6th when the appellate court will begin hearing opening-arguments. Both sides have said they will not appeal the court once its decision has been made.


*Photo courtesy of Google Images