As any of my readers can imagine, I’ve been following the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case with a great deal of interest.
This was, of course, the case for overturning California’s Proposition 8. By this time, it will come as news to no one that the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, coming to the conclusion that there is no rational or constitutional basis for denying marriage rights to same sex couples, and indeed that the attempt to do so was unconstitutional in itself.
However, a (slim) majority of California voters supported the proposition in 2008. Does the judge have the right to invalidate the expressed will of the people?
That question, rather than any religious objection, is likely to be central when this case reaches the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Legally, however, the answer is “yes”. The Constitution specifically forbids the individual states from enacting laws which deny equal rights to any of its citizens. As such, the proposition was invalid from the moment the ink was dry, and should never have been put to the vote in the first place. The fact that a majority of today’s voters supported it will be irrelevant in the long term, whereas the highest law of the land is designed to stand for ever.
I’d like to congratulate Judge Walker (who is, incidentally, both gay and Catholic) on a meticulously thought-out ruling which applied the rule of law to the proposition without allowing for any non-legal bias, much as the Supreme Court is supposed to (and may yet be called upon to).
Congratulations also to the California couples who have fought for so long against an uncertain future; this is a milestone for all of us, but you will be the ones to feel it most keenly.