Monday, March 14, 2005
A Republican-appointed Superior Court judge today struck down the California law banning gay marriage, ruling that “the state’s protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional”:
The ruling by Judge Richard Kramer is just the first step in a case that is headed for the state Supreme Court, probably sometime next year. But it marks the first time that a California judge has declared unconstitutional the state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman . . . .At least one group representing religious conservatives already plans to file an appeal. Also, efforts will continue to place a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot this November; two such bills are already pending before the California state legislature.
The ruling comes more than a year after about 4,000 same-sex couples exchanged marriage vows at San Francisco City Hall after Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that the city clerk issue them marriage licenses. The state Supreme Court declared the marriages invalid last August and ruled that Newsom had exceeded his authority in giving the marriages the go-ahead.
Monday's ruling did not revive those marriages but - if it stands - will allow same-sex couples to marry in the future . . . .
Rejecting California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's argument that California is entitled to maintain the traditional definition of marriage, Kramer said the same explanation was offered for the state's ban on interracial marriage, which was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1948.
The judge also rejected arguments by opponents of same-sex marriage that the current law promotes procreation and child-rearing by a husband and wife. "One does not have to be married in order to procreate, nor does one have to procreate in order to marry," Kramer said.