In a decision that cut at a major ideological schism in the US, last week a judge threw out California's Proposition 8, a law banning gay marriage enacted in 2008 by popular vote.
Some feel that this is an example of an "activist" judge legislating from the bench to overrule the will of the people. (After all, in each of 31 states that have voted on gay marriage, all 31 states have voted to ban it.) Regardless, the judge in question found Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional, which is a win for gay rights activists, and for people who generally don't think the government should tell Americans how to live their lives.
- U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker who presided over Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruled that the law is unconstitutional and violated the Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses. In his ruling, Walker stated "[Proposition 8] unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
- The decision will undoubtedly send the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed all the way to the Supreme Court. Protect Marriage, an organization of right-wing religious groups who pushed for the passage of Prop. 8, has already filed an appeal to the decision.
- In their effort to prevent America from becoming Gaymerica, opponents of the decision to overturn the gay marriage ban, including the National Organization for Marriage, are angrily drawing attention to the fact that Judge Walker happens to be gay and alleging that he exercised bias in the ruling. The American Family Association is even calling for his impeachment.
- But that argument doesn't really hold up when you consideranother peculiar twist to the Prop 8 saga: Walker's own nomination by Ronald Reagan was postponed for two years partly because gay rights activists didn't want him there! At the time, he was assisting the U.S. Olympic Committee in a lawsuit against a gay former Olympic athlete who started the "Gay Olympics." The San Francisco board of supervisors evenpassed a resolution opposing him in 1988.
- Throughout his presidency, President Obama has managed to avoid addressing gay marriage head on. But it looks like the time has come for him to confront the issue: He's both drawing heat from same-sex marriage supporters for sticking to his stance of opposing gay marriage and at the same time, opposing Proposition 8. Essentially, Obama's stance on the issue is that it should be left up for states to decide - something most small government lovers would agree with.
What happens in the Prop. 8 case is sure to keep personal liberty fans on the edge of their seats - and we'll be keeping you posted here. We'll also give you the dish on daily news headlines via Twitter and lots more on the Personal Liberty Issue page.