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California Overturns Prop 8 and Takes a Huge Step Towards Equality and Gay Rights

A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriages, making California the seventh state to grant licenses to same-sex couples. It was ruled that the law violated the 14th Amendment equal-protection clause by treating a minority group unfairly for no reason.

This is very exciting news and a step in the right direction for the gay movement, as it could propel the contested issue to the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year.

Furthermore, bigotry was defeated twice over as an appeals court refused to invalidate the ruling of Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who upheld the ballot measure and failed to disclose that he was in a long term same-sex partnership. Rather than using Judge Walker’s sexuality as a scapegoat for unequal treatment, the ruling respected Walker’s integrity for making an unbiased decision.

Theodore Olson, the prominent conservative lawyer working on overturning Proposition 8, ironically known for his work for Bush in Bush vs. Gore, said that the plan ‘from the very beginning’ was to be in the U.S. Supreme Court and have the federal government stop treating gay and lesbian men and women as second-class citizens. Although this is the hope, the decision specifically looked at a case unique to the state of California where they had already granted full legal rights to same-sex couples and then took them away; therefore the case may not be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, citing that there is no need to review due to its narrowness.

There is still more work to be done before the entire country can join a significant portion of their global peers such as South Africa, Canada, and Argentina in recognizing same-sex marriages, but the end could finally be in sight. Additionally, if a case were to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would put pressure on President Barack Obama to take a stronger stance on gay rights. Although he has been the most progressive president the United States has ever had on gay rights with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and choosing to not recognize the Defense of Marriage Act, he has not come out to support gay marriage outright and this could be the time for him to fully tap into the constituency with money to spare. The increased press coverage of gay marriage has already made it one of the leading issues in the presidential race, with Rick Perry’s disgusting ad and an increasing number of millennials and citizens supporting same-sex unions.

While there is uncertainty of whether or not this will travel to the Supreme Court, adding one more state and continuing a charge towards equality is something to be celebrated

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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