Now that I've had time to read and gnaw on Judge Walker's ruling, I can only say that to this non-lawyer, it is a masterful work of art. I may not be a lawyer, but I read a lot of court rulings, and this one transcends most in terms of its construction, its logic, and its thoroughness. No corner was left with dust in it.
Which means, of course, that the crazy is now beginning. Even as the party rolls on in the Castro district and West Hollywood tonight, the wingers have begun to roll out statements of their own -- statements which have only one message for those with ears to hear. "Fear the gays."
It's the same message they used to ram Proposition 8 down the throats of California voters in the first place. Crazy doesn't like to be called crazy, and especially not in the venue they use most to cling to crazy -- the courts. So we have some notable statements from the Proposition 8 proponents.
Maggie Gallagher, chairman of National Organization for Marriage (NOM):
If this ruling is upheld, millions of Americans will face for the first time a legal system that is committed to the view that our deeply held moral views on sex and marriage are unacceptable in the public square, the fruit of bigotry that should be discredited, stigmatized and repressed. Parents will find that, almost Soviet-style, their own children will be re-educated using their own tax dollars to disrespect their parents' views and values.
Maggie Gallagher's argument restated with a different group substituted would read something like this:
If this ruling is upheld, millions of Americans will face for the first time a legal system that is committed to the view that our deeply held views on the inferiority of the Negro [Hispanic, Asian, etc] race are unacceptable in the public square...
Why yes, yes they are unacceptable. What Maggie fails to grasp is what the judge so brilliantly articulated: Allowing discrimination based upon popular opinion is unconstitutional.
Thrice-married stellar defender of marriage Newt Gingrich stepped out with his own brand of intellectual dishonesty, aiming for a twofer by swiping at Elena Kagan and Judge Walker:
"Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy," Gingrich said in a statement. "Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”
Oh, Newtie. Be very, very careful what you wish for, particularly on that "Congress" thing. Congress already had a swipe at it, but a judge in Massachusetts said Congress' attempt was also unconstitutional. Think DOMA, Newtie.
Family Research Council Tony Perkins foamed out this statement:
"This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' overturning the marriage laws of 45 states. As with abortion, the Supreme Court's involvement would only make the issue more volatile. It's time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box.
"Marriage is recognized as a public institution, rather than a purely private one, because of its role in bringing together men and women for the reproduction of the human race and keeping them together to raise the children produced by their union. The fact that homosexuals prefer not to enter into marriages as historically defined does not give them a right to change the definition of what a 'marriage' is.
Ah, a true debunk moment. The kind I live for.
FRC: "Marriage is recognized as a public institution, rather than a purely private one, because of its role in bringing together men and women for the reproduction..."
Judge Walker (Fact 19, page 60):
Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.
And this (Fact 21, page 60):
California, like every other state, has never required that individuals entering a marriage be willing or able to procreate.
This is the bankruptcy of the right, laid bare. At the very time they're out there with their flags and crosses and claims of reverence for the holy sacred Constitution, decrying government intervention in their lives, they are also trying to claim that government intervention is absolutely warranted and required to keep those gays from marrying each other.
They don't get to have it both ways, and this, more than anything else, is what Judge Walker's ruling spoke to. He disposed of the hypocrisy of their stance with facts, and having ruled on the facts, disposed of their feeble attempt to discriminate against their fellow citizens. Behold the beauty of his logic, via just a few of his factual findings:
- Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
- Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners.
- Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.
- 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 marriage.
- Gays and lesbians have been victims of a long history of discrimination.
- Stereotypes and misinformation have resulted in social and legal disadvantages for gays and lesbians.
- Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment.
- Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents.
There are many more, but these address directly the arguments Perkins, Gingrich and Gallagher try to make for why California should be allowed to legally discriminate and take rights away from a class of people in this state.
As Judge Walker said in his ruling on points of law:
That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as 'fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.'"
Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights.
What the proponents of Proposition 8 have always sought is to strip rights away from fellow citizens. What Judge Walker did is restore them.
The next steps will be the 9th circuit court of appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court, assuming they agree to hear the case. No matter what the outcome, the right wingers who use the Constitution as their whip and chair for progressive ideas should be very careful what they wish for, because Judge Walker made it abundantly clear that the rule of law transcends their petty little prejudices.
Oh, one other thing. Judge Walker is no left-wing activist judge. He was originally a Reagan appointee who was finally confirmed under George HW Bush. The right wing screamers are already out in full force over the fact that Walker is gay. They should read the ruling before squawking too loudly, given that it is wholly non-partisan, applies existing case law, and has been very carefully constructed.
If they try to dismantle it, their own house of cards might come tumbling down.
On a personal note, I truly hope the family of Lawrence King feels a small bit of vindication on this day, no matter what the ultimate outcome is. Lawrence King knew what discrimination and hate turned on him felt like, and now he's dead for being gay. It's a shame none of these so-called moralists could find a small sliver of compassion in their heart for him. When confronted just before Election Day, 2008 with Lawrence King's murder, the righteous squawkers on the Holy Bus Tour didn't even know who he was. He mattered that little.
And they talk about family values. Talk is all they do.