With a pair of too-close-to-call political campaigns heating up in California — for governor and for Democrat Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat – the candidates wasted no time in staking out their positions after a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s ban on gay marriages.
In a case that most believe the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday ruled that California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 was unconstitutional because it unfairly singled out gay and lesbian couples as being forbidden to legally wed, violating their rights to due process and equal protection under the Constitution.
For Democrat Jerry Brown, who is running against Republican Meg Whitman for governor, the case offered a natural opening: As the state’s attorney general, he has refused to defend Proposition 8 in court, instead filing a brief with the state Supreme Court to overturn it in a move that raised eyebrows among legal scholars but won him support among gay and civil rights rights activists.
“In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it,” Brown said in a written statement that was released by his office about half an hour after Walker’s ruling became public. “Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.”
As a former eBay CEO and political novice, Whitman has so far had no public role in the fight over gay marriage in California, but her campaign office issued a statement reflecting her position on the hot-button issue: “Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.”