Wednesday, October 14, 2009

U.S. judge refuses Prop. 8 backers' request to dismiss gay-marriage case

By Howard Mintz

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a legal challenge to Proposition 8, concluding that the ongoing courtroom battle over California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage must be resolved in a full-blown trial.

After two hours of legal sparring, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected the arguments of Prop. 8 supporters, who maintained that U.S. Supreme Court precedent and a lack of proof of constitutional violations should sidetrack a lawsuit designed to overturn the ballot measure. Instead, Walker, sensing the challenge to Prop. 8 ultimately could wind up before the Supreme Court, wants a trial to develop a full factual record, including forcing Prop. 8 supporters to justify the reasons behind a state ban on allowing gay couples to wed.

One by one, the judge shot down the legal reasons Prop. 8 lawyers presented to resolve the case now and allow the same-sex marriage ban to remain in force. In particular, the judge seemed particularly unpersuaded by Prop. 8 attorney Charles Cooper's chief argument for a state law confining marriage to heterosexual couples — that the state has an interest in protecting "traditional" marriage because of its importance to procreation in society.

"Procreation doesn't require marriage," Walker noted, citing statistics showing that a large percentage of children are born out of wedlock.
The judge's decision sets the stage for a January trial. Read the rest of the story here.

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