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Gay Marriage Before Nation's Largest Appeals Court

Publication Date: 
August 05, 2010
Associated Press
Paul Elias

Professor Michael Wald is quoted on Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling in California's Proposition 8 trial overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Paul Elias of the Associated Press filed this story:

The judge who overturned California's gay marriage ban was unrelenting in his repudiation of the measure, saying such laws are mean-spirited and unconstitutional to the core.

It was a harsh yet carefully worded ruling that some experts said would be tough to overturn as the landmark legal debate goes to the appeals court and then possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Others say the power of conservative judges on those courts could be enough to thwart gay marriage and stop the movement in its tracks.

Sure to be at the center of the debate is whether California's Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protections for all and declares that government won't take away "life, liberty or property" without due process.


Legal experts such as Stanford University law professor Michael Wald said that Walker's opinion was strongly worded, well-reasoned and could be difficult to overturn.

Wald said it's significant that Walker made a voluminous "findings of fact" that showed Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The "findings of fact" phrasing is important because appeals courts have to pay deference to those conclusions, essentially they have to assume that the findings are true.

"Walker held that there is one fundamental right to marry and excluding gays from enjoying that right is unconstitutional," Wald said.