A federal judge has overturned Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The measure passed with 52 percent of votes in November 2008. Yesterday, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled it unconstitutional on 14th Amendment grounds of due process and equal protection under the law.
In a decision that ran more than 100 pages, Judge Vaughn Walker stated that "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples."
Proponents of the ban have planned an immediate appeal, and Judge Walker has issued a stay on his ruling while it is being appealed. Though supporters of same-sex marriage consider the ruling a victory, there is as of yet no clear timeline for a when same-sex marriages may be once again be legally performed in California.
In the culture wars, when voters and lawmakers and courts all weigh in, who has the final word? We take that question to Kenji Yoshino, a professor of Constitutional Law at NYU.