Jacob Sullum writes:
Today a federal judge in California overturned that state's ban on gay marriage, ruling that it violates the 14th Amendment's command that no state may "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In response to a lawsuit filed by several same-sex couples, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker concluded that Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that amended California's constitution to prohibit gay marriage, "unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
The arguments for banning gay marriage are so weak, Walker said, that they fail even the highly deferential "rational basis" test, which applies in equal protection cases that do not involve a "suspect classification" such as race. "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians," he wrote. "The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite sex couples."
This has always been a question of equal protection, as far as I am concerned. It's nice to see a federal judge get something like this right--and for the right reason--for a change. Last year I pointed out that the California supreme court got it wrong for the right reason on this one.
The only prediction I will hazard about what happens when this gets to the high court is that it will be a 5-4 decision that pisses a lot of people off.