California's Proposition 8 which had removed gay and lesbian's equal right to marry has been ruled unconstitutional by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker (a Reagan appointee unanimously confirmed by the US Senate). His ruling is based on both due process and equal protection arguments, a major victory for equality. Below are rallies planned across Texas in the coming hours, as well as the full ruling. A temporary stay until Friday has been issued in order to here arguments as to where a continuing stay should be issued.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement.
"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."
Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman says, "As we stand in solidarity with Californians, we must remember that our work is far from over. The laws in Texas are not similar to California. Existing law here allows for systematic discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans every single day. There is much work to be done legislatively to change the laws in Texas. And in order to change the laws, we must elect public officials who will support equal treatment under the law for every Texan."