Belmont Club

Proposition 8

Chief Judge Vaughn Walker knocked down Prop. 8 today, “the California referendum which amended the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Prop. 8 previously was upheld by the California Supreme Court.” According to William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog, “the Judge then holds, in essence, that the justifications are irrational and have no legitimate societal basis.”

Gavin Newsom Twittered: “The federal court has struck down Prop 8! A major victory for equal rights & for thousands of committed couples, families & friends in CA.” Mike Honda called it a “victory for equal rights.” Newt Gingrich was more elaborate in his response:

Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they’ve affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy. Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.

Although the debate over Proposition 8 is going to be argued in terms of the legal doctrine of equal protection, in the light of recent developments in Arizona, Missouri and Texas, it is inevitably going to seen as another tussle between the Feds and the States, between the Center and the Periphery, and unlikely as it may seem in the case of California, between Red and Blue. What is interesting about these disputes is that they seem to be multiplying and increasing in frequency rather than diminishing. Conflicts normally either disincentive the parties from further argument or egg them on. In this case, the eggs have it. The question is: why?