Prop 8 Trial kicks off today; case has national ramifications
CBS NewsCBS News legal analyst Trent Copeland says the "fundamental issue at play is whether or not a proposition - a measure passed by the will of the people - if it violates the federal constitution, which one prevails?"
AP/CBSProposition 8 ended five months of legal same sex marriages in California. The trial beginning Monday pits two couples who claim the ban violates their federal constitutional rights to due process and equal treatment, against a voter-won proposition which defines marriage as between a man a woman. Regardless of the outcome, the case is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it ultimately could become a landmark that determines if gay Americans have the right to marry.
In San Francisco, CA, a trial kicks off which will have major national ramifications
***Update courtesy of albertacowpoke: FOX News states that cameras and filming of the trial will be barred.
This will be the first federal trial which will make the determination whether the US Constitution has within its language any actual phrasing which might make state banning of same sex marriage unconstitutional.
Chief Justice Judge VR Walker will render a decision. He is interested in probing questions, and getting beyond political rhetoric, he says. He wants to know 1. if gay sexual identity is inborn 2. if gay marriage will effect traditional marriage 3. the effect on children raised by a gay couple.
One wonders how one judge can definitively answer to any satisfactory degree, such complex questions.
Lamda Legal, a gay advocacy group, believes that this is a fascinating case of historic proportions; history in the making. This is due to the fact that federal law has an opportunity to answer multiple and fascinating questions. "Can the state reserve the esteemed language and status only for heterosexual couples?" is on which Lamda's marriage director finds compelling and decisive. In Lamda's opinion, our present marriage status is "a caste system", relegating gay couples to the lower "civil unions".
(CBS/AP) The first federal trial to determine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing same-sex marriage gets under way Monday, and the two gay couples on whose behalf the case was brought will be among the first witnesses.
The proceedings, which are expected to last two to three weeks, involve a challenge to Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008.
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The judge who will render a decision, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, has asked lawyers arguing for and against the ban to present the facts underlying much of the political rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage. Among the questions Walker plans to entertain are whether sexual orientation can be changed, how legalizing gay marriage affects traditional marriages and the effect on children of being raised by two mothers or two fathers.
"The case is intriguing, exciting and potentially very significant because it addresses multiple important questions that, surprisingly to many, remain open in federal law," said Jennifer Pizer, marriage director for the gay law advocacy group Lambda Legal. "Can the state reserve the esteemed language and status of marriage just for heterosexual couples, and relegate same-sex couples to a lesser status? Are there any adequate public interests to justify reimposing such a caste system for gay people, especially by a majority vote to take a cherished right from a historically mistreated minority?"
The sponsors of Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, won permission to defend the law in court after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown refused to. The attorney general and the governor are defendants in the case because of their positions in state government.
Lawyers for the measure's backers plan to argue that because same-sex marriage still is a social experiment, it is wise for states like California to take a wait-and-see approach. Their witnesses will testify that governments historically have sanctioned traditional marriage as a way to promote responsible child-rearing and that this remains a valid justification for limiting marriage to a man and a woman.