Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ruling on same-sex marriage decisively restores a right

Washington Post
August 6, 2010

It is hard to quarrel with the conclusions of the federal judge who on Wednesday overruled Proposition 8, a California public referendum limiting marriage to one man and one woman, on the grounds that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of due process and equal protection.

The fact that a single judge could nullify the votes of some 5.5 million voters is cause for concern -- not least because of the potential for political backlash. Yet Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had no choice but to decide this case once it landed before him; two same-sex California couples challenged Proposition 8 after being denied a marriage license. The judge oversaw a three-week trial during which supporters of same-sex marriage introduced a mountain of evidence showing its social, political, psychological and economic benefits. Opponents, meanwhile, put on an extraordinarily weak case, with a paucity of evidence and a short slate of feckless and often erratic witnesses.