The August 5, 2010 front page of a CaliforniaCounty afternoon daily declared: “California’s Prop. 8 Ruled Unconstitutional: Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban.” The American controversy being acted out by a Federal Judge Vaughn Walker, Chief U.S. District, overturned the previous State wide election results. On that Wednesday he set in motion the probable decision being finalized by the United States Supreme Court.
On the overturning of the electorate decision to ban homosexual marriage in California, a celebration in some public areas began. In San Francisco’s streets, gay couples waved rainbow and American flags. This city, called by that same County newspaper “a haven for gays,” was joyous over the Judge’s decision. It remains so.
A lesbian woman, part of a couple, reportedly declared in Marin County, North of San Francisco (the celebration was widespread and local, too), “I know its baby steps going in the right direction.” The 39 year old Kelly Kuhlman, quoted by the paper’s reporter Richard Halstead of The Independent Journal is married to her “partner”, Celia Graterol who have three children, 16, 18, and 19. Though she says she is married, marriages must wait for same-sex couples.
Apparently, homosexual marriages must wait, despite the ruling, as an appeal is in the works. Hence, Kuhlman’s characterization of the significant decision as “baby steps.”
Judge Walker was told by attorneys in closing arguments, which resulted in his decision of more than 120 pages, that religious tradition and religious fears of harm to married unions between men and women were insufficient grounds to discriminate against homosexual couples.
Associated Press reporters Lisa Leff and Paul Elias quoted a woman’s sign as reading, “Life Feels Different When You’re Married,” holding it as she (Shelly Bailes) “…embraced her wife, Ellen Pontac….” Others were ecstatic in their celebration in front of San Francisco City Hall.
The Rt. Reverend Marc Andrus (Episcopal), Diocese of California who is a San Francisco Bishop, said as an exhortation addressing the crowd before San Francisco City Hall:
Another generation said, “Blessed are,” when they translated Jesus’ great words to those walking the path of peace and reconciliation. Some today have translated “Blessed are” as “Congratulations!”
So, today Jesus says to you, “Congratulations, you who have been mourning! You are being comforted!”
“Congratulations all of you who have been hungering and thirsting for righteousness! Aren’t you feeling filled and nourished now?”
“Congratulations, all of you who have been compassionate with those who have hated you and acted against you, and who still do! You are able to receive the world’s compassion in turn.”
“Congratulations all you peacemakers. You truly are God’s children, for God brings peace.”
“And congratulations all of you who have been persecuted for the sake of goodness! You live in a different world now, where God is all-in-all, and love is over all.”
All these congratulations and blessings are so that we can keep on moving, to extend congratulations to LGBT people in places where persecution is still intense, to use our great energies to help children get food and education, to give strength and support to women everywhere, to fight world-class diseases like HIV/AIDS, to heal the wounded planet.
We rejoice today, and tomorrow we continue the fight, lending our strength, the blessing of God, to those who need it.
In his public statement the San Francisco Bishop wrote on the Diocesan Website:
I am very pleased with today’s ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8. All of God’s children are equal in God’s eyes, and today Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker affirmed once again that all Californian families share equal protection under the law.
The Episcopal Church has reached resolution on the issue of full civil rights for lesbian and gay persons and, speaking for myself as a bishop and person of faith and as a representative of the Episcopal Church, I am gladdened whenever discrimination is rejected and fundamental rights are acknowledged as equal rights.
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of California
The 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio, passed Resolution A095 that said,
“Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church’s historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention’s action calling upon municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.”
Queried by email, the United Church of Christ responded this in writing:
The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, the UCC’s Minister for GLBT Concerns and HIV/AIDS Ministries, made the following statement:
“I am extremely happy by this just ruling overturning Proposition 8. This historic decision soundly rejects the irrational basis for discrimination and rightly recognizes the equal status of same sex couples and their families. It appropriately identifies the role of government under the U.S. Constitution to grant due process and equal protection to every citizen, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Because the decision will be appealed and will likely ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court, the journey to marriage equality is not over and much work is yet to be done. Nevertheless, we cannot underestimate the significance of the Judge Walker’s eloquent, well-reasoned and just decision.
The United Church of Christ Press Officer added:
“In addition, here is some background information that might be helpful:”
In overturning Proposition 8, the court has agreed in large measure with what the 25th General Synod of the UCC (the bienniel meeting of the denomination) said in 2005 when it affirmed “equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender,” and declared that “the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage.” The basis for the court’s decision reflected the General Synod’s recognition that “marriage carries with it significant access to institutional support, rights and benefits,” “children of families headed by same-gender couples should receive all legal rights and protections,” and legislation that “bans recognition of same-gender marriages further undermine the civil liberties of gay and lesbian couples”
The UCC General Synod joined with the both California UCC regional Conferences and other religious bodies in an Amici Curiae Brief supporting the plaintiffs. The brief argued that Proposition 8 was “enacted to codify religious attitudes hostile to homosexuals and homosexuality” and Proposition 8 “denies, rather than protects religious liberty.” The brief concluded that Proposition 8 amounted to “an unconstitutional codification of hostility toward, and sectarian doctrine concerning, homosexuality and homosexuals. It should be stricken.”
This writer made inquiry by email of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. and here is their Press Statement in its entirety, quoted here:
“What business does a federal judge have declaring as a ‘finding of fact’ that religious beliefs are harmful or beneficial to any group?”
-Alan Wisdom, IRD Vice President for Research and Programs, Director of Presbyterian Action
Washington, DC— U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, in his August 4 ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8, attacked religious doctrines disapproving of same-sex relations and distinguishing them from the marriage of man and woman. “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians,” Walker stated as a “finding of fact.”
Walker classified such beliefs among the “stereotypes and misinformation,” the “fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples,” that allegedly motivate those who uphold the marriage of man and woman. As examples of such prejudicial beliefs, the judge cited official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Orthodox Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Free Methodist Church.
Walker’s decision cast suspicion on the campaign for Proposition 8 because religious groups were prominent among its endorsers. He looked askance at the fact that “84 percent of people who attend church voted in favor of Proposition 8.” The decision concluded that there is no rational basis for “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”
Alan Wisdom, IRD’s Vice President for Research and Programs and Director of its Presbyterian Action committee, commented:
“What business does a federal judge have declaring as a ‘finding of fact’ that religious beliefs are harmful or beneficial to any group? Who is he to look into the hearts of religious believers and see only ‘stereotypes and misinformation,’ ‘fear or unarticulated dislike’? Since when was a law held in suspicion because religious bodies endorsed it and churchgoers voted for it?
“Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, and others who affirm the marriage and man and woman regard it as a blessing, not a harm, for all of society. They counsel people against all non-marital sexual relations, heterosexual or homosexual, because marriage provides the best environment for both adults and children to flourish. And there is abundant social science evidence to confirm this moral conviction. Judge Walker, sadly, discounts all this evidence and prefers to attack the motives of Proposition 8 supporters.
“The judge insists that ‘Proposition 8 does not affect the First Amendment rights of those opposed to marriage for same-sex couples.’ But his ruling confirms the warnings about what happens to traditional religious believers when the state decrees that there is no difference between marriage and same-sex relationships. He singles out by name America’s largest religious bodies and labels them as oppressors of gay people and prejudiced enemies of state policy. Can it be long before the full weight of government pressure will be brought to bear upon these allegedly ‘misinformed’ religious people who distinguish between marriage and other sexual relationships? We have already seen the dangers with same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, where the Catholic Church has been driven out of the adoption business.”
Alan Wisdom’s paper “Is Marriage Worth Defending?” is viewable on the IRD website. www.TheIRD.org
The Catholic News Agency reports on Cardinal Roger Mahony’s analysis of the Gay Marriage ruling by Judge Walker. Here compiled by this writer is that report:
Cardinal Roger Mahony said on Wednesday. He added that the judge wrongly assumed that marriage is of human origin and can mean “anything any person wishes.”
Writing in a Wednesday statement, the Archbishop of Los Angeles responded to U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling that Prop. 8, which restored California’s legal definition of marriage to be a union of a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.
The cardinal offered the question whether marriage is of divine or human origin.
“Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society ‘feel’ about themselves,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.
He said that those who supported Prop. 8 did so because they “truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God’s plan for the world and human society. Period.”
The belief in marriage has been unanimous across cultures and histories and is “embedded deeply” into the spirit of human beings, he noted.
The cardinal further stated that Judge Walker was wrong to assume that marriage is of human and civil origin and “can mean anything any person wishes to ascribe to the institution.”
“The union of a man and of a woman in a life-long loving and caring relationship is of divine origin. No human nor civil power can decree or declare otherwise,” Cardinal Mahony wrote. “For many of us, we will continue to believe that God is the origin of marriage, and we will follow God’s constant revelation to that effect
In a related article by Catholic News Agency, found here, says in part (quote):
The ruling, issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, overturned Prop. 8, the California measure which passed in November 2008 to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The legal decision listed as its 77th “finding of fact”: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”
In a list of supporting citations, the ruling quoted a 2003 document issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), “Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons.”
“Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as ‘a serious depravity’,” is the first CDF phrase quoted in Judge Walker’s decision.
The document was signed in 2003 by the CDF’s prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was elected to the papacy in 2005….
…The ruling of Judge Walker, who is reported to be homosexual, also cited the document’s statement that “legal recognition of homosexual unions … would mean … the approval of deviant behavior.”
In full, the passage reads: “Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”
Baptist Press comments in a story by Michael Foust:
If the nation’s highest court upholds the decision it likely would result in the reversal of constitutional amendments and statutes in 45 states defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Only five states and the District of Columbia currently recognize “marriage” between homosexuals.
Already, some are warning the decision, if upheld, could become the Roe v. Wade of “gay marriage.”
The New York Times in an Editorial of August 4, 2010 notes:
The case was brought by two gay couples who said California’s Proposition 8, which passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, discriminated against them by prohibiting same-sex marriage and relegating them to domestic partnerships. The judge easily dismissed the idea that discrimination is permissible if a majority of voters approve it; the referendum’s outcome was “irrelevant,” he said, quoting a 1943 case, because “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote.”
He then dismantled, brick by crumbling brick, the weak case made by supporters of Proposition 8 and laid out the facts presented in testimony. The two witnesses called by the supporters (the state having bowed out of the case) had no credibility, he said, and presented no evidence that same-sex marriage harmed society or the institution of marriage.
Atlantic Monthly Wire writer Heather Horn ends her piece with this quote and citation:
- The Important Facts in This Decision The “FACTS that Walker has determined from the testimony and evidence,” writes Marc Ambinder, “will serve as the grounding for the legal arguments yet to come.” Among the crucial determined facts Ambinder highlights:
Marriage is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only when requested by the intervenors … California, like every other state, doesn’t require that couples wanting to marry be able to procreate … Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized; no fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages. … ‘Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union.’
With all due apology, as this writer compiles the last of the excerpts, these were cribbed from The Washington Post article “Under God Proposition 8 Ruling…” by Elizabeth Tenety. This is part of her, “Religion Roundup…”
Jewish Orthodox Union:
“Traditional Jewish values recognize marriage as being only between a man and woman. In addition to our religious values – which we do not seek to impose on anyone – we fear legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” poses a grave threat to the fundamental civil right of religious freedom.”
Episcopal Bishop Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles:
“Justice is advancing thanks to today’s ruling affirming Californians’ constitutional right to marriage in faithful, same-gender relationships.”
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
“Proposition 8, adopted by ballot initiative in 2008, effectively denies gay and lesbian individuals the same rights afforded heterosexual couples under the law. Judge Walker’s decision reaffirms the strong commitment to equality upon which our nation is built.”
Rev. Welton Gaddy, Baptist minister and President of Interfaith Alliance:
“We are pleased to see that Judge Vaughn Walker was sensitive to the concerns of people of faith who oppose same-gender marriage on religious grounds but that he recognized, as do we, that their religious freedom will not be impacted by the legalization of same-gender marriage. America’s diverse religious landscape leaves room for a variety of theological perspectives on same-gender marriage; indeed, some faiths enthusiastically support it and others vehemently oppose it. Under this ruling, as with any constitutionally based marriage equality law, no religion would ever be required to condone same-gender marriage, and no member of the clergy would ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony not in accordance with his or her religious beliefs.”
This writer sent an email to The Methodist Church, and to the Presbyterian Church. The Methodist Church replied they have no statement. The Presbyterian Church USA has no statement. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America may make a statement at a later time.
An interview with Stanford University’s Emeritus Professor Michael Wald on the subject of Gay Marriage and especially in specific its effect on Christian civil rights is being worked on at this time and will appear at a later date. Professor Wald is an esteemed man in the area of children rights and legal matters, with familiarity with Gay Marriage issues because of his work with their legal civil rights organizations that are fighting for those marriage rights.