Court strikes down California's gay marriage ban

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge in San Francisco has overturned California's same-sex marriage ban.

The decision in the landmark ruling came in the case of two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban, called Proposition 8, violated their civil rights. The ban was approved by voters in November 2008, five months after California's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, said in his ruling that the ban "fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license." Walker's 136-page ruling lays out in precise detail why the ban does not pass constitutional muster.

Even before the ruling, both sides in the debate said they would appeal a losing decision.


The court ruling that struck down the ban on same-sex marriage might be considered unusual in a couple of respects:

It brought together two lawyers who were on opposite sides in an even more famous case; and it went ahead without the original defendants.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson delivered the closing argument for opponents of the ban. Olson teamed up with David Boies to argue the case, bringing together the two litigators best known for representing George W. Bush and Al Gore in the disputed 2000 election.

In an unusual move, the original defendants, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, refused to support Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.

That left the work of defending the law to Protect Marriage, the group that successfully sponsored the ballot measure that passed in Nov. 2008.

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