Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Court of Reason

A long awaited decision came down today in Federal District Court in San Francisco when a federal judge ruled California’s Prop. 8 banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. That’s right, unconstitutional against the U.S. Constitution, not just the state constitution.

The decision by federal Judge Vaughn Walker gives hope to gay men and women everywhere. In the struggle to fight discrimination in the circles of marriage rights, the LGBT community has had to rely on the reasoned minds of the judiciary to recognize the blatant discrimination forced upon the citizenry by the so-called majority.

I’m proud to live in a country that has these checks-and-balances, so we’re not always succumbing to the mob mentality of “majority rules.” When it comes to rights, the foundation of the United States, it shouldn’t be left to the passing fancy of the loudest people around.

During the trial, Judge Walker asked reasoned questions, from both perspectives, to get to the heart of the matter. And in the end, he couldn’t see any legal arguments to make an exception of the Constitution’s equal protection clause to allow men and women to marry, but not allow same-sex couples to do the same. The judge noted that allowing such a law on the books somehow implied that heterosexual couples were somehow more entitled than same-sex couples. Today, at least, we’re all the same.

Of course, this is just the first step. In fact, the judge ruled that Prop. 8 should not be enforced, but then put a stay on his ruling to allow the issue to be appeals. But this case puts the issue on track to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. And decisions by the highest court of the nation often put an end to all the fighting. I look forward to that day, even though I confess I’m a bit nervous given the conservative tendencies of a court built over several years of a Republican president. In the end, I just hope the Supreme Court justices rely on reason and not emotions. Just like how Judge Walker did today.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

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