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Advocates, opponents, politicians react to today’s Prop 8 ruling

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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While gay rights advocates from across the country celebrate Wednesday’s historic ruling in which U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8, California’s 2008 voter approved ban on gay marriage, political groups, elected officials and activists on both sides issued reaction, ranging from jubilation to furiously denouncing the court’s ruling.

Following are excerpts from today’s statements; full text available by clicking the respective links:

Statement from Chad Griffin, Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights:

The lawsuit was initiated by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), a nonprofit organization created to support the plaintiffs in the case.

“This decision follows the founding constitutional principle that every American is to be treated equally under the law. No law may violate the U.S. Constitution, and our courts were established to protect against unfair laws. Today was an example of our nation living up to its founding ideals.”

Protect Marriage.com Statement:

Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Proposition 8, said “Today’s ruling is clearly a disappointment. The judge’s invalidation of the votes of over seven million Californians violates binding legal precedent and short-circuits the democratic process. But this is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage, as we now begin an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Prop 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop 8.”

Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry:

“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.”

National Organization for Marriage statement:

“Big surprise! We expected nothing different from Judge Vaughn Walker, after the biased way he conducted this trial,” said Brian Brown, President of NOM.

“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.”

HRC Statement:

The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – praised Wednesday’s historic decision:

“After hearing extensive evidence in support of marriage equality, and essentially no defense of the discrimination wrought by Prop 8, Judge Walker reached the same conclusion we have always known to be true – the Constitution’s protections are for all Americans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

GLAAD Statement:

“The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, joined same-sex couples across the nation in applauding today’s historic decision to overturn Proposition 8.”

“After hearing extensive evidence in support of marriage equality, and essentially no defense of the discrimination wrought by Prop 8, Judge Walker reached the same conclusion we have always known to be true – the Constitution’s protections are for all Americans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

Maggie Gallagher, Former President of NOM:

“Did our Founding Fathers really create a right to gay marriage in the U.S. Constitution? It is hard for anyone reading the text or history of the 14th Amendment to make that claim with a straight face, no matter how many highly credentialed and brilliant so-called legal experts say otherwise.

“Judge Walker has added insult to injury by suggesting that support for marriage is somehow irrational bigotry, akin to racial animus. The majority of Americans are not bigots or haters for supporting the commonsense view that marriage is the union of husband and wife, because children need moms and dads.

“Judge Walker’s view is truly a radical rejection of Americans’ rights….”

Statement from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Schwarzenegger, named as a defendant in the case, commended today’s ruling. He opposed Proposition 8 and declined to defend the ballot measure in court.

“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.”

Statement from California Attorney General Jerry Brown:

Brown was also named as a defendant in the case, and as with Governor Schwarzenegger, declined to defend the ballot measure in court.

“In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.”

Statement from Geoff Kors, Executive Director for Equality California:

“We are thrilled with today’s ruling, which affirms that the protections enshrined in our U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans and that our dream of equality and freedom deserves protection. Judge Walker has preserved our democracy by ruling that a majority cannot deny a minority group of fundamental freedoms. This is as much a victory for the soul of our nation as it is for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who will be directly impacted.

“We are truly indebted to Ted Olson and David Boies and to the American Foundation for Equal Rights. We owe Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown a great deal of gratitude for their unprecedented decision not to defend this discriminatory measure.”

Follow our complete coverage on Wednesday’s historic decision here.

For achived coverage on the trial, including opening and closing arguments and day-by-day reporting coverage during the trial, browse our extensive coverage here.

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