Reactions are starting to come in on Judge Vaughn Walker's decision ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional. I'll post them here as they come in:
“This is a travesty of justice. The majority of Californians — and two-thirds of black voters in California — have just had their core civil right to vote for marriage stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge who has misread history and the Constitution to impose his San Francisco views on the American people. The implicit comparison Judge Walker made between racism and marriage is particularly offensive to me and to all of us who remember the reality of Jim Crow. It is not bigotry, it is biology that discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. To make a marriage requires a husband and a wife, because these unions are necessary to make new life and connect children to their mother and father. Judge Walker’s slur will not stand the test of time and history, we demand that Congress and the Supreme Court act to protect all Americans’ right to vote for marriage.”
"Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they've affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy."
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):
"Today’s court ruling on Proposition 8 is a powerful declaration for those of us who believe in equal protection for all Americans. This affirmation of marriage equality in our nation’s most populous state shows, once again, that laws preventing same-sex couples from marrying serve no legitimate purpose, and that efforts to deprive gay men and lesbians of fundamental rights and to single them out for discrimination are anathema to our constitutional system. As Judge Walker recognized, like opposite-sex couples, ‘same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Love [does] not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.’ I join Californians in celebrating this victory, and urge passage of my legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, in order to provide all legally married Americans and their families the full measure of protections and obligations of federal law."
"Today's federal ruling strikes down a cruel and unfair constitutional amendment that should never have become law and affirms that the freedom to marry belongs to every American. As the first court to strike down race restrictions on marriage said in 1948, 'the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice.' There is no gay exception in the Constitution to personal choice and the right to marry, and there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.
Judge Walker's decision will be appealed and litigation will continue, but what we witnessed in the clear light of his courtroom cannot be erased."
CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA, anti-gay group:
"Judge Walker’s decision goes far beyond homosexual ‘marriage’ to strike at the heart of our representative democracy. Judge Walker has declared, in effect, that his opinion is supreme and ‘We the People’ are no longer free to govern ourselves. The ruling should be appealed and overturned immediately. Marriage is not a political toy. It is too important to treat as a means for already powerful people to gain preferred status or acceptance. Marriage between one man and one woman undergirds a stable society and cannot be replaced by any other living arrangement. Citizens of California voted to uphold marriage because they understood the sacred nature of marriage and that homosexual activists use same-sex ‘marriage’ as a political juggernaut to indoctrinate young children in schools to reject their parent’s values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree. CWA stands in prayer for our nation as we continue to defend marriage as the holy union God created between one man and one woman.”
"Judge Walker’s decision reaffirms the Constitution’s command that all Americans must receive ‘equal protection of the laws.’ Prop 8 is incompatible with our Constitution and a long line of precedent rejecting laws that single out a certain class of Americans for disfavored legal status. Today’s decision does nothing more than restore the Constitution’s promise to millions of American couples. Because Constitutional precedent so clearly rejects Prop 8, I have every confidence that this decision will be upheld on appeal."
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, anti-gay group:
"Judge Walker’s ruling raises a shocking notion that a single federal judge can nullify the votes of more than 7 million California voters, binding Supreme Court precedent, and several millennia-worth of evidence that children need both a mom and a dad. “During these legal proceedings, the millions of California residents who supported Prop 8 have been wrongfully accused of being bigots and haters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, they are concerned citizens, moms and dads who simply wanted to restore to California the long-standing understanding that marriage is between one woman and one man – a common-sense position that was taken away by the actions of another out-of-control state court in May 2008. “Fortunately for them, who make up the majority of Californians, this disturbing decision is not the last word."
RICK JACOBS, Courage Campaign:
"This ruling is an historic milestone for millions of loving families, for all who have fought to realize the dream of equality under the law, and for our nation as a whole. While today concludes the first step in a legal process that could take up to two years, Judge Walker's ruling is a landmark victory in America's centuries long war against discrimination, and the result of months of extraordinary work by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, and courageous plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo."
"This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' overturning the marriage laws of 45 states. As with abortion, the Supreme Court's involvement would only make the issue more volatile. It's time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box. "Marriage is recognized as a public institution, rather than a purely private one, because of its role in bringing together men and women for the reproduction of the human race and keeping them together to raise the children produced by their union. The fact that homosexuals prefer not to enter into marriages as historically defined does not give them a right to change the definition of what a 'marriage' is."
CHARLENE STRONG, Activist:
"Today’s ruling is very good news. LGBT rights are not special rights. These are human rights. Anyone who says otherwise, that all citizens are not entitled full equality in our country is speaking from their own personal bias and nothing more. This has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with who you love…. I am an American and I am proud of that. I am not fighting for my rights alone — I am standing up and fighting for every gay and lesbian couple who pay their taxes, contribute to society and who want the same protections every other American is afforded if and when they choose to marry."
"The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans."
BRIAN BROWN, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), anti-gay group:
"Big surprise! We expected nothing different from Judge Vaughn Walker, after the biased way he conducted this trial. With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman. This ruling, if allowed to stand, threatens not only Prop 8 in California but the laws in 45 other states that define marriage as one man and one woman. Never in the history of America has a federal judge ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. The reason for this is simple – there isn’t!"
"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."
ROSS LEVI, Executive Director Empire State Pride Agenda:
"We are emboldened by the recent victory on marriage equality in California and in the federal justice system. Proposition 8 was a cruel and unconstitutional attack on LGBT families, and we are very pleased that the court has understood the need for all loving, committed couples to have the protections they need to care for each other and their children.
But we know that this struggle is far closer to home. Our movement is not only about lawyers in a far away courtroom; it’s about everyday New Yorkers who support the freedom to marry and are willing to fight until we achieve it. The victory in California provides continued momentum here in New York that will allow the Pride Agenda and our community to continue pushing equality and justice on all fronts and with every tool at our disposal. That includes an intense focus on the upcoming 2010 New York elections that will determine for the next few years how quickly we can accomplish progress in the New York State government on issues like marriage equality and basic nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The LGBT community and our allies will be making our voices heard loudly through this election season."
"I was pleased and gratified to learn today of Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on California's Proposition 8 in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. This ruling affirms that the denial of the right to marry a partner of one's choosing, whether of the same or a different sex, is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. I congratulate attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson for their courage in taking on this case, and their diligence in seeing it through. I know that there is a long road ahead in the legal proceedings, but whatever the outcome I believe that the bedrock American principle of equal protection under the law must mean equal rights for gay and lesbians, and that such equal rights must include the fundamental right to marry. Today's decision is one important step in a long struggle, and that struggle must continue until equality is achieved. Whether it be through the courts or via the political process, I know in my heart that those rights will one day be vindicated, in New York State and throughout our nation."
MICHAEL KEEGAN, President of People For the American Way:
“This is a historic day for California, and for our country. Proposition 8 took away the freedom of committed couples to make what is one of the most important decisions in any person’s life—to make a lifelong promise of caring, responsibility, love, and protection for another individual. Now, like the thousands of other California couples who have been barred from marrying who they choose, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier can have security of knowing they can receive legal protections for their family, visit each other’s hospital rooms when they are ill, and provide for each other in old age. They now have the freedom to make that lifelong commitment to each other. This decision is an important step in the right direction, but there’s a lot of work left to do. We will continue to work toward making America a place where all couples can enjoy the freedom and security of marriage.”
MICHAEL MITCHELL, Executive Director Stonewall Democrats:
“Religion-based bigotry should never outweigh constitutionally-based guarantees of equal protection, especially when thousands of California families are at risk. Judge Walker unequivocally affirmed that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right protected under the Constitution and that it includes lesbian and gay couples. It’s a great day for same-sex couples, and it’s a great day for all Americans who value equality under the law. As the case inevitably finds its way to the US Supreme Court, I am reminded of the 2000 campaign when it was commonly held that the two candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush, were virtually indistinguishable. Imagine what a different world we’d be living in if this case were going to ultimately land in the laps of a Court that was headed by a Gore appointee instead of Chief Justice John Roberts. Elections matter, whether it’s the razor thin elections that resulted in two terms for George W. Bush, the election that gave us the spiteful Prop. 8, or the one this November that could hand over Congress to Republican control. Republicans will certainly turn back every gain that LGBT Americans have seen under the Obama Administration.”
"Judge Walker had the great responsibility of deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of the United States. He heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings. We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision. For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity. Today's decision is by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people."
CAROLYN JENISON: Executive Director, One Iowa:
"Today’s decision is a victory for all Americans who believe in fundamental fairness. This is the first step toward remedying the pain done by California’s Proposition 8 and recognizing gay and lesbian couples who simply want to marry the person they love. As we celebrate with Californians, we recognize the work is far from over. In order to make equality a reality for all Americans, we must continue to have conversations with our friends and families about the importance of marriage for same-sex couples."
"Gay and lesbian couples have long struggled for acceptance and the ability to marry the person they love and want to build a family with. Today's landmark ruling declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional is a testament to the fundamentals on which this great country was built and validates that the discrimination gay couples face must come to an end. We as a society should be embracing these couples and helping them make the lifelong commitment to each other that many of us straight people take for granted each and every day. This decision is a major step in the right direction towards equality.
On behalf of the True Colors Fund and the Give a Damn Campaign, I want to commend and thank Chad Griffin and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the legal team headed by Ted Olson and David Boies, and the plaintiffs in the case, Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, for their leadership and courage in standing up for equality and fairness."
JUDY SHEPARD: mother of Matthew Shepard:
“These plaintiffs are law-abiding, family-oriented, tax-paying citizens whose privacy was invaded, and whose dignity was affronted, by a misguided and unconstitutional law. Their victory at trial shows that our courts still play a vital role in safeguarding the rights of minorities from majorities who misunderstand them. But more importantly, it proves the power of personal stories. Equal marriage rights are ultimately about people’s families, and during the trial, their personal need for legal recognition of their relationships came through loud and clear. After Matt came out to me, he once asked me if I thought gay couples would ever be allowed to get married. I told him I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, but it probably would in his. It’s so sad, and ironic, that it turned out the other way. But this case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true.”
“We live in a democracy wherein majority rule is checked and balanced by the guarantee of inalienable minority rights. This case, as it wends its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, presents jurists with fundamental questions about minority rights and majority rule. I believe Judge Walker got it right, declaring that denial of marriage rights and protections to gay and lesbian citizens violates the Constitution even if it reflects the will of the majority of Californians;”
REA CAREY, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
“This ruling marks a victory for loving, committed couples who want nothing more than the same rights and security as other families. From the start, this has been about basic fairness. Today we celebrate the affirmation of this fundamental principle; tomorrow, we are back out there sharing our personal stories and having conversations with Californians and people all across the country about why this matters and who we are. The tide is turning nationwide in favor of marriage equality, but our work is far from over. Today’s ruling is just a beginning step in what will likely be a long process, yet we are confident that fairness will prevail. Our conversations are breaking down barriers and helping to transform our country.”
“Nothing is more fundamentally American than equal treatment under the law, and Judge Walker’s decision today recognizes that equality should not be subject to popular referendum. As a longtime advocate for marriage equality, I am hopeful that this discriminatory and wrongheaded attack on the civil rights of LGBT people in California will no longer stand in the way of full civil marriage equality. Even without Prop. 8, the federal Defense of Marriage Act continues to deny states the ability to offer married same-sex couples the full rights and responsibilities of civil marriage. That’s wrong, and as the first attorney general candidate in New York to commit to suing the federal government over DOMA, I will continue to partner with marriage advocates across the state to bring true equality to all LGBT New Yorkers.”
THOMAS DINAPOLI, New York State Comptroller:
“California’s Federal District Court made the right decision this afternoon by declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ban on gay marriage was unfair and amounted to legalized discrimination. Same-sex couples everywhere should be afforded the same opportunity to form meaningful and lasting unions as everyone else. In September, 2007, I directed the New York State and Local Retirement System to recognize same-sex marriages wherever they are performed. This policy guarantees that all surviving spouses have access to certain retirement benefits, including accidental death benefits awarded in certain situations and a cost-of-living adjustment to monthly pension payments.”