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Palm Springs same-sex marriage activist calls today's federal ruling a victory

PALM SPRINGS - A Palm Springs same-sex marriage activist called today's federal court ruling that struck down voter-approved Proposition 8 a victory for gay and lesbian couples.

''What this is really is a victory for same-gendered couples and the families that want to have that freedom to marry as others do,'' George Zander of Equality California told City News Service.

Up to 100 people are expected to attend a 7 p.m. rally at the Palm Springs Courthouse to celebrate the ruling on Proposition 8, which is the California voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in San Francisco that the measure violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

In a 136-page ruling, Walker wrote that the proposition ''both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.''

''Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,'' Walker wrote. ''Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.''

Walker issued an order barring the enforcement of the law, but proponents of Proposition 8 were expected to appeal -- likely all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Zander also said he expected an appeal of the decision.

''It will continue on in the court system,'' he said. ''I am so pleased that he ruled there was no substance to those arguments.''

He also said that more work is needed to talk to voters and change ''people's hearts and minds.''

But Randy Thomasson, president of -- Campaign for Children and Families, decried Walker's ruling as ''a terrible blow'' to marriage and voter rights.

''Judge Walker has ignored the written words of the Constitution, which he swore to support and defend and be impartially faithful to, and has instead imposed his own homosexual agenda upon the voters, the parents and the children of California,'' Thomasson said. ''This is a blatantly unconstitutional ruling because marriage isn't in the U.S. Constitution.

''The Constitution guarantees that state policies be by the people, not by the judges, and also supports states' rights, thus making marriage a state jurisdiction,'' he said.

''... As a Californian and an American, I am angry that this biased homosexual judge, in step with other judicial activists, has trampled the written Constitution, grossly misused his authority and imposed his own agenda, which the Constitution does not allow and which both the people of California and California state authorities should by no means respect,'' he said.

In March 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.

Opponents of same-sex marriage soon got Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution. The measure, defining marriage as a union between a man and woman only, was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

The approval of the measure led to widespread protests and lawsuits, challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8, but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 would remain valid.

Various gay and lesbian rights groups have considered putting the issue back on the ballot, but even the supporters of same-sex marriage have sparred over when to ask voters to reconsider the issue.


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