CFI Hails Federal Court Ruling Striking Down Proposition 8

August 5, 2010


The Center for Inquiry (CFI) hails the August 4, 2010


made by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California striking down California’s Proposition 8, a public referendum that withdrew same-sex couples’ legal right to marry. Judge Vaughan Walker found that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the federal Constitution. 

CFI president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay and director of CFI’s legal programs, Derek C. Araujo released the following commentary:

From Ronald A. Lindsay:

By now, you’ve probably heard the good news. A federal district court in California has ruled, in the case of

Perry v. Schwarzenegger

, that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional. 

This ruling is critically important, and not just for California. By finding that Proposition 8 would deny gays and lesbians the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the ruling has nationwide implications. Of course, the ruling by the district court judge will not be the final word on this issue. The ruling will be appealed and, ultimately, the Supreme Court may consider this case. But the district court has done a splendid job in framing the critical issue: Is there any evidence that would support denying gays and lesbians the same right to marry that heterosexuals enjoy? The court ruled unambiguously that “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.” In other words, a ban on same-sex marriage is based on nothing more than bias and prejudice.

We have an imperfect justice system. But sometimes it works.


From Derek C. Araujo:

Whether this decision will survive the highly likely appeals to the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court remains to be seen.  Likewise, some may debate whether the decision’s publication just prior to midterm elections and California’s gubernatorial race will unify social conservatives and skew the results of the upcoming elections.

Far less open to debate is Judge Walker’s reasoning that the state constitutional amendment imposes a private moral viewpoint without a legitimate governmental interest to support it, and that the amendment violates the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples. 

Read more.



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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at