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Back to the Chapel

March 15, 2005 - A Superior Court judge in the State of California ruled that there is no rational basis for California to deny the right of marriage to same sex couples, ruling that a state law, passed in 2000 by state voters, defining marriage as "between a man and a woman" is unconstitutional under the state constitution.

Those who would decry the decision as the work of a liberal activist judge will be disappointed to learn that Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer was not only appointed by former Republican Governor Pete Wilson, but is a practicing Catholic.

The judge's decision was similar to those previously issued in the states of Washington and New York which currently have challenges to their own states' bans slowly moving up the judicial ladder. This ruling will no doubt also be appealed.

That is not necessarily bad news. After a lengthy series of challenges and appeals the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that state's law disallowing same sex marriages unconstitutional in a 2003 ruling.

Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Seth Kilbourn noted, "The judge's decision is clear: there's no rational reason for denying marriage and the promise of equality to same-sex couples."

"Today we are one giant step closer to true equality for all California families," said Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, one of the plaintiffs in the case. "The court recognized that the government has no business putting obstacles in the path of people who are seeking to care for their loved ones. Today's ruling affirms that lesbian and gay couples have the same need for the legal protections of marriage, and the same right to equal protection and dignity under the law."

In today's decision Judge Kramer wrote, "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long ago rejected by the courts: separate but equal." further noting that, "the denial of marriage to same-sex couples appears impermissibly arbitrary."

The case stems from last year's issuance of more than 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses authorized by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newson. 

Those licenses, and marriages stemming therefrom were later challenged, and struck down by the California Supreme Court based on the California law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Yet, the Court did not rule on the validity of the law itself, under the state constitution, which was the issue that Judge Kramer ruled on today.

Good news all around.

Sometimes the good guys win.

In pride,
Deborah


 

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Drop a note to Deborah at gaylesissues@rslevinson.com

copyright 1986-2010 Deborah Levinson