August 5th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

The buzz on Proposition 8 ruling

A federal judge in California struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution and handing supporters of gay rights a major victory in a case that both sides say is sure to wind up before the Supreme Court.

As soon as the ruling was handed down, iReporters, celebrities and politicians began to share their thoughts on the potentially landmark decision. Columnists and news and political organizations soon followed with opinions that varied from calling the ruling one of the biggest decisions in our lifetime to seeing it as a completely overreaching attempt at judicial activism.

Here's what they had to say:

'Unforgettable lesson'

"We strenuously hope that [U.S. District Judge Vaughn] Walker's decision will be upheld by the high court. But no matter what happens, the trial in San Francisco delivered an unforgettable lesson in what Proposition 8 and same-sex marriage really mean.

"From now on, it will be harder for opponents of same-sex unions to continue mouthing canards. The public as well as the courts have had an opportunity to hear the facts. The debate over same-sex marriage will never be quite the same again."
- Los Angeles Times editorial

'Discrimination, prejudice'

"Proposition 8 was based on discrimination, prejudice and religion. The Constitution protects rights of the individuals that often the majority would take away from the minority. That's why we don't vote on these issues."
- iReporter Cliff Olney of Watertown, New York

'Extreme judicial activism'

"Today's decision by a federal district judge in San Francisco striking down state constitutional protections for marriage and inventing a spurious federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage is an example of extreme judicial activism. Moreover, it is an affront to the millions of California voters who approved Proposition 8 in 2008 after months of vigorous public debate.

"Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. The people of California, and the United States, have made clear in numerous ways that they have not consented to the redefinition of marriage. For the past two decades they have considered the arguments advanced by some for overturning marriage as it has been understood in our country. In state after state — 45 in all - they have chosen to reaffirm the meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. They have done so because they understand that establishing same-sex marriage would transform the institution into a set of private interests rather than buttress it as a multi-generational reality binding mothers, fathers and their children biologically, socially and legally."
- Chuck Donovan of the Heritage Foundation

iReport: What's your take? Tell us your thoughts on Proposition 8 ruling

'Instant landmark'

"The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults.

"As the case heads toward appeals at the circuit level and probably the Supreme Court, Judge Walker's opinion will provide a firm legal foundation that will be difficult for appellate judges to assail."

- New York Times editorial

'Unforgettable lesson'

"Years from now, when all Americans finally are permitted to marry the person they choose, we'll look back on today's ruling by Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker as a historic milestone - a moment when the opponents of equality were exposed for the hypocrisy and absurdity of their arguments. Defenders of the 2008 initiative presented just two witnesses, neither of whom could offer any credible evidence that gay marriage harms heterosexual marriage or that barring gays from marrying promotes any legitimate state interest.

"It wasn't poor courtroom maneuvering that led to this outcome. Says David Boies, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs: 'They didn't fail because they're bad lawyers, they failed because there isn't any evidence to support the argument they're Advertisement advocating.' "
- San Jose Mercury News editorial

'Filled with broad pronouncements'

"In reading so far, I think a notable feature of Judge Walker's decision is its judicial maximalism - a willingness to reach out and decide fundamental constitutional questions not strictly necessary to reach the result. It is also, in maximalist style, filled with broad pronouncements about the essential characteristics of marriage and confident conclusions about social science. This maximalism will make the decision an even bigger target for either the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court. If that's right, it magnifies the potential for unintended and harmful consequences for gay-rights claims even beyond the issue of marriage. ...

"If the Ninth Circuit and/or Supreme Court decide to reverse Walker's ruling, they will be more likely to deal with this issue in a way that will set broader precedent. A minimalist decision for [same-sex marriage] by Walker could have left this matter undecided and thus would not have forced a higher court's hand."
- Dale Carpenter column on the Volokh Conspiracy

A decision written for Justice Kennedy?

"Is that the end of it? Oh, no. Judge Walker is already being flayed alive for the breadth and boldness of his decision. The appeals road will be long and nasty. Walker has temporarily stayed the ruling pending argument on a stay. (Rick Hasen argues it may be wise for him to stay the order pending appeal for tactical reasons.)

"Any way you look at it, today's decision was written for a court of one - Kennedy - the man who has written most eloquently about dignity and freedom and the right to determine one's own humanity. The real triumph of Perry v. Schwarzenegger may be that it talks in the very loftiest terms about matters rooted in logic, science, money, social psychology, and fact."
- Dahlia Lithwick column on Slate

Too soon to celebrate?

"As well-crafted as this decision is, it is too soon to declare victory. As proponents of gay rights know all too well, many courts have not been as fastidious about excluding religious rationales from their constitutional decision-making. One need only remember Justice Burger's 1986 opinion supporting the constitutionality of laws banning sodomy because such condemnations were 'firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards.'

"More deeply, we must recognize that even when we win these cases, it is only because our opponents' core objections have been, however properly, ruled out of court. Until we directly address them in the public sphere, we will not have truly won the culture war for marriage equality."
- Kenji Yoshino column on

'Disturbing episode in American jurisprudence'

"The 'trial' in San Francisco in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case is a unique, and disturbing, episode in American jurisprudence. Here we have an openly gay (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) federal judge substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who I promise you would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution. We call on the Supreme Court and Congress to protect the people's right to vote for marriage."
- Response on National Organization for Marriage website

soundoff (737 Responses)
  1. ED

    I could care less whether gays get married or not but I do know one thing. The will of the people is not always the right thing to do. If it had been up to the will of the people, African Americans and minorities would probably not have the right to vote and the South would still not be allowing blacks into their universities. The "people" are not always right, particularly when it comes to infringing on the rights of a minority group, in this case the gays.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rick

    When you people want to talk about bigotry, come out of the closest and we can have a discussion.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joe babble

    Put the gays on their own island,no boats,no way to get off and let them frolic all they want !!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Adam

    I find it curious that everyone who supports Prop 8 talks about the majority vote. What percentage of the people actually voted first of all? Secondly, it was a very slim margin. The Right was very annoyed that the US congress wanted reconciliation (a tactic used more under W. Bush than any other president, dem or rep) to pass legislation because everything brought forward kept getting voted down. Odd how when liberals are in power, there needs to be 66% support to pass anything, but if the GOP is in power than anything over 50% will do. And it was just over 50% that supported Prop. 8. What about the millions of voters who voted "no" there. Does that count?

    If, for religious sake, we need to define marriage as man and woman, I'm fine with that. But there needs to be some equal viewpoint politically for all couples, gay or straight. Maybe marriage should just be done in religious ceremonies. And justices of the peace shouldn't marry anyone, but only perform civil unions which the government recognizes. Anyone married in a church by default gets the government recognized civil union status and all rights, and responsibilities are applied to all. this way partners, gay or straight, get the same medical benefits, social security benefits, life and death decisions as currently married people. There problem solved. No government recognized marriage benefits– union benefits only, and religion can keep marriage and everyone can have the same rights guaranteed by the government

    August 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ron

    The majority is often wrong! The majoirty of Germans supported the killing of Jews and other minorities. The majority of men thought that women shouldn't be allowed to vote. the majority of whites thought blacks shouldn't have equial rights.

    Just because a bunch of people vote for something doesn't mean it's right. This law is WRONG and it should be shot down.

    By the way, I'm a veteran AND a liberal. Discrimination , bigotry, class hatred are wrong and must be opposed. REEAL Christians don't waste themselves in hate.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    I think both sides are stupid, but for different reasons.

    I believe pro-8 supporters need to accept that the government should view a gay couple in the same light as a non-gay couple.

    I believe that anti-8 supporters picked a stupid fight (or didn't pick the right fight). Why attempt to debate on such a charged word? Yes, there is a civil 'marriage' and religious 'marriage', and they are different. Isn't the goal to provide gay couples the same rights and privileges as their non-gay couterparts?

    Why on earth isn't the goal to replace the word 'marriage' with 'civil union' in government applications? Then we sit around all day and determine what a civil union means and who it applies to.

    But now, we've engaged in a religiously entrenched word debate (again, different meanings, people), which have no positive impact on the goal.

    It seems that most people can agree that the government should provide equally, who cares what it's called?

    August 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DarthWoo

    Has everyone forgotten how to use the Reply button, or is the nesting function completely broken? Also, it seems that the auto-censor filter has been set to overzealous mode.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Prove it - really defend marriage!

    I'm still waiting for them to really defend marriage AND BAN DIVORCE!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. justin

    The people of that state have already voted! Now shutup and deal with it.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. justin

    The people have voted already! Now shutup and deal with it!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ShutYoTrap


    GTFO Bible-humpers.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DarthWoo

    And yep, it seems nesting from reply is broken.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Religious freedom

    Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of US society and nobody should be able to dictate who can be married. In fact I think all marriages should only be seen as civil unions by the law. Marriage belongs to religion and each religion should be able to choose what they do.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kim Madison WI

    Why is this even an issue, is it because most of America can’t bare to focus on things that actually affect them? Is. Is it that we are virtually powerless to control what our government is spending money on anymore? Heck, the there is more personal impact to people on if Brett Favre retires or not – atleast that effects how many people spend money at the bar to cheer or jeer. Why get worked up over something that will not effect you if you choose not to let it?

    August 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ricky

    Prop. 8 is a huge joke. People should have the right to marry who they want. Life is about the pursuit of happiness and if the government is going to rob people of the one basic right that everyone should have (happiness) then I don't want to be a part of this country. The people who are opposed to gay marriage and rights are insane, one-sided people whose heads are too far up their asses quoting the bible to realize they are wrong.

    August 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
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