The overturning of Proposition 8 positively enforces equality through extended marriage rights
On Wednesday, Aug. 4, U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker made a monumental ruling in California. Judge Walker ruled in favor of overturning Proposition 8 (Prop 8), deeming the 2008 amendment unconstitutional. As the controversial decision begins to gain attention nationwide, those in opposition to the ruling feel as though Walker's judgment was biased on account of his sexual orientation. Regardless of his sexuality, however, Walker's decision took a huge step towards positively restoring basic rights to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.Proposition 8 was a constitutional provision, implemented in November 2008, that declared that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be legally recognized in the state of California. Walker's recent ruling suspends Proposition 8 until the decision goes through a legal appeals process, and as rivals seek a reversal at the Ninth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, the final ruling may inevitably be heading to the Supreme Court.
When examining the decision, many Proposition 8 supporters were angered and claimed that the definition of marriage was stretched. They feel as though the traditional definition of marriage will be weakened and the right to be married will therefore be abused. In addition, various groups and individuals who oppose same-sex marriage view homosexuality as improper and do not want to encourage such a lifestyle, as they believe it would provide a bad example and break the basic traditions that America was built on. In short, supporters of Prop 8 refuse to accept Walker's overturning of the amendment.
The argument that Walker's ruling was biased based on his rumored homosexuality is completely inexcusable. Walker is a strict constitutionalist as well as very conservative, but regardless of any of his personal beliefs and views on same-sex marriage, Walker's job requires him to set his personal feelings aside and interpret the constitutional validity of any laws brought before his court.
And as it so happens, while interpreting the constitution, Walker found Proposition 8 to be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Due to the equal protection clause, the government is prohibited from creating "special classes" of people. It is illegal to deny from any class equal protection and access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; Prop 8 essentially created a special class of people based on sexual orientation. Judge Walker indicated in his ruling that because of that newly created "special class,” the amendment denied same-sex couples equal protection.
The overturning of Proposition 8 will allow for all unions based upon love to take place legally in the state of California. Couples will no longer be denied their right to be married as a result of their gender. Walker's decision simply reiterates the fact that marriage should be based on love and that sexual orientation should not play a role in determining a person's ability to be joined legally.
As Walker's ruling makes its way to appeals court, many more boundaries must be crossed before full equality is achieved. Proposition 8's repeal was a small step in the struggle for equal rights for Americans of all sexual orientations, but the movement is far from over. When looking at the bigger picture, Walker's decision is a glimmer of light that provides hope for the good things to come in the future.
Myla Sapp. More »