The CLGA and CE Committee would like to send a huge (and humbly belated) congratulations to our friends and allies in California!
On August 4, 2010, a federal judge overturned a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Not only is this a victory for residents of the most populous state in the union, but it is also a landmark case that could eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.
The ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker establishes several legal 'facts'. As Marc Ambinder has explained in an Atlantic Weekly article, these facts can not be easily dismissed on appeal.
What queer and transgender people have known for aeons is now, evidently, legal knowledge that can be used to secure civil rights in future cases brought forth in other districts.
Judge Walker, who is now my queer ally of the year, has found that:
1. Marriage is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only when requested by the intervenors.
2. California, like every other state, doesn't require that couples wanting to marry be able to procreate.
3. Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized; no-fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages.
4. California has eliminated marital obligations based on gender.
5. Same-sex love and intimacy "are well-documented in human history."
6. Sexual orientation is a fundamental characteristic of a human being.
7. Prop 8 proponents' "assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence."
8. There is no evidence that sexual orientation is chosen, nor than it can be changed.
9. California has no interest in reducing the number of gays and lesbians in its population.
10. "Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union."
11. "Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals."
12. "Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment in the United States.
The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships."
13. "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the
stability of opposite-sex marriages."