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Proposition 8 Overturned By Federal Judge

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjNiYvyJT8A

Video published August 6, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage has been overturned. We speak to David Rolland about why Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Proposition 8, and where the legal battle could go from here.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

PROPOSITION 8, CALIFORNIA'S BAN ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE WAS OVERTURNED WEDNESDAY IN FEDERAL COURT. JUDGE WARREN WALKER WROTE IN HIS RULING, QUOTE, PROPOSITION 8 BOTH UNCONSTITUTIONLY BURDENS THE EXERCISE OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO MARRY AND CREATES IRRATIONAL CLASSIFICATION ON THE BASIS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION, UNQUOTE. PROPONENTS OF PROP 8 APPEALED THAT RULING TO THE U.S. 9th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS. DAVID ROGUE AND JOINS ME TO ANALYZE THIS STORY. DAVID HOW SURPRISING WAS THIS RULING TO YOU?

NOT SURPRISING AT ALL. I DON'T THINK IT WAS SURPRISING TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. I THINK EVEN THE PEOPLE THAT DON'T AGREE WITH THE RULING. THE PROPONENTS OF PROP 8 I THINK EXPECTED THIS OUTCOME, AND THE JUDGE'S RULING MATCHED WHAT MY NEWSPAPER HAS BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG, AND THAT IS THAT THIS IS A SIMPLE MATTER OF EQUAL RIGHTS UNEQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

BUT IT DID NOT MATCH WHAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN CALIFORNIA SAID IN 2008. 52% OF THEM APPROVED THE IDEA OF BANNING SAME SEX MARRIAGE.

YEAH. I THINK WE ARE AT A CRITICAL FULCRUM IN THE DEBATE, WHERE PUBLIC OPINION IS GRADUALLY CHANGING. I WISH IT WOULD HAPPEN A LITTLE FASTER, BUT WE ARE THERE ON A 50/50 LEVEL. AND I THINK OVER TIME AS OLDER PEOPLE DIE OFF, AND YOUNGER PEOPLE TAKE HOLD WITH THEIR ATTITUDES OF TOLERANCE FOR HOMOSEXUALS IN SOCIETY, I THINK IT WILL CHANGE AND BE DONE IN A MATTER OF TIME.

SO THIS IS GENERATIONAL?

I BELIEVE SO, YES.

WE ASKED SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCILMAN TODD GLORIA, PROPONENT FOR GAY MARRIAGE TO RESPOND TO PROP 8 SUPPORTERS THAT SAY THE RULING SHORT- CIRCUITED THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS AND INVALIDATED THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE.

YOU KNOW, IT IS TRUE THAT THE PUBLIC WEIGHED IN AND MAJORITY CHOSE TO SUPPORT MARRIAGE DISCRIMINATION. BUT I THINK WHAT THE RULING YESTERDAY SHARED IS THAT THE RIGHTS OF MIDNIGHT SHOULD NEVER BE UP FOR MAJORITY VOTE, AND IN PARTICULAR IN THIS SITUATION, THE JUDGE FOUND THAT IN NO WAY ARE STRAIGHT PEOPLE HARMED BY GAY PEOPLE'S ABILITY TO GET MARRIED. SO IF WE USE THE SAME PRINCIPAL APPLIED IN PROP 8, WE WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN GREAT PROGRESS IN THIS COUNTRY. WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE WAS NOT TERRIBLY PROPERLY WHEN INITIALLY PROPOSED. DESEGREGATION NOT POPULAR WHEN PROPOSED. BUT WE HAVE SEEN THE COURTS TIME AND AGAIN SIDE ON THE CAUSE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE TO SAY WE WILL NOT ALLOW THE MAJORITY TO DISENFRANCHISE THE MINORITY. THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THAT.

AND YET, THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT SAY THIS RULING UNDERMINES THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. YOU HAVE MAJORITY RULES, DON'T YOU?

NO. FORTUNATELY NOT IN THIS COUNTRY. WE HAVE A SERIES OF CHECKS AND BALANCES. THE DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT PROVIDE CHECKS AND BALANCES ON ONE ANOTHER, AND THE COURT SYSTEM FORTUNATELY PROVIDES A CHECK ON MAJORITY WILL. YOU CANNOT JUST SAY PUT ANYTHING TO A VOTE IN THIS COUNTRY AND SAY THE MAJORITY, WHATEVER THE MAJORITY SAYS GOES.

LET ME READ YOU FROM A LETTER TO THE EDITOR IN THIS MORNING'S SAN DIEGO UNION- TRIBUNE UNION. WHY SHOULD THE PUBLIC TAKE THE TIME AND ENERGY TO VOTE FOR ANY AMENDMENT WHEN THE END RESULT WILL COME DOWN TO THE OPINION OF ONE MAN OR ONE WOMAN, MEANING THE JUDGE. HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT?

THIS WASN'T JUST A MATTER OF ONE MAN'S OPINION. THIS WAS A TRIAL THAT PLAYED OUT. IT WAS A PROCESS WHERE ONE SIDE PRESENTED ARGUMENTS, AND THE OTHER SIDE PRESENTED ARGUMENTS. AND THE JUDGE IN THIS CASE MADE A SERIES OF METICULOUSLY CRAFTED FINDINGS OF FACT BASED ON EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN TRIAL. AND IT WAS HIS RULING, HIS CONCLUSION THAT ONE SIDE OVERWHELMED THE OTHER SIDE IN TERMS OF STICK FACTUAL BASIS FOR A RULING.

THEN THERE ARE THOSE THAT SAY HIS RULINGS WHY ACTUALLY LAYING THE BASIS FOR THIS CASE TO GO TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. AND THE U.S. SUPREME COURT NOW IS CONSIDERED MORE OF A CONSERVATIVE COURT. SO IS THAT A GOOD THING? OR THE PROPONENTS OF ELIMINATING THE BAN ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE?

WE WILL SEE, I DON'T KNOW. I AM NOT AN EXPERT ON THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. I WOULDN'T WANT TO PREDICT HOW THEY WOULD COME DOWN ON THIS. I WILL SAY THAT THE MOST THOUGHTFUL ANALYSES I READ ABOUT THE RULING IS THAT THE JUDGE HAD SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, WHO'S CONSIDERED A SWING VOTE ON THE COURT, HAD HIM IN MIND, AND KENNEDY HAS GIVEN HIS OWN OPINIONS ON CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE, INCLUDING THE SODOMY LAW IN TEXAS THAT WAS THROWN OUT: I THINK HE WAS A CRUCIAL JUDGE ON THAT RULING. WHAT I READ IS THAT WALKER REALLY HAD ANTHONY KENNEDY IN MIND. AND I THINK IT'S SMART FOR HIM TO --HE DOESN'T WANT HIS OPINION OVERRULED BY A HIGHER COURT, SO IT'S SMART TO REALLY, REALLY LATAKIAS. AND THIS WAS 136 PAGES REPORT OF METICULOUS TALK.

GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE FABULOUS THINGS TO WATCH. THANK YOU.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

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