News (USA)

Judge refuses to dismiss suit challenging Proposition 8

Judge Vaughn R. WalkerSAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in San Francisco refused Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, and ordered a trial on whether the measure denies fundamental rights to gays and lesbians, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker (pictured) has said repeatedly that a trial is needed to resolve disputes that may determine the measure’s constitutionality, so Wednesday’s ruling did not surprise either side.

But the breadth of his decision was a boost for gay rights advocates, who argue that Prop. 8 unconstitutionally discriminates against gays, is rooted in anti-homosexual bias and violates the right to marry the partner of one’s choice.

Walker left all those issues on the table, rejecting arguments by Prop. 8’s sponsors that higher courts had already resolved them. Among the questions to be answered, he said from the bench, is “whether Prop. 8 was passed with discriminatory intent.”

Prop. 8 amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, overturning a May 2008 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry. The state’s high court upheld the measure in May while allowing 18,000 same-sex couples who married before the election to remain legally wed.

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