California Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional; New Marriages on Hold

Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California has just issued a ruling against Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. Enacted by California voters, Prop 8 was a response to an earlier California Supreme Court ruling which held that gay marriage was protected by California's constitution. Prop 8 had attempted to circumvent that previous ruling by amending California's constitution to explicitly ban marriage by same-sex couples.

Judge Walker's opinion states that Proposition 8 failed to advance any rational basis to support a ban on gay marriage, and merely enshrined the idea that heterosexual marriages are superior to gay marriages -- something legally impermissible under the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Supporters of Proposition 8 have already vowed to appeal.

Judge Walker's ruling contained an injunction against Proposition 8, a move that would block enforcement of the law. However, the judge also issued a temporary stay of the injunction while he decides whether to suspend his ruling during the appeal process. Gay marriages cannot resume in California until the judge's stay is lifted.

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