California judge rules against Proposition 8

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SALT LAKE CITY -- In a landmark court ruling, a federal judge has overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The decision was announced just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, and both sides in this contentious debate say they are preparing for future wrangling in court.

This ruling is significant because this marks the first time a federal court has held that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.


In a 136-page decision, Judge Vaughan Walker ruled the voter initiative known as Proposition 8, which banned same-sex unions in California, violated the Constitution's clauses regarding equal protection and due process rights.

The California couple who took the case to court were overjoyed.

"At the end of the day, we just want to be married and we want to be seen as equal, not only in the eyes of the rest of our friends and family, but our fellow constituents in the state of California," plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo said.

Proposition 8 supporters, on the other hand, are disappointed.

"The judge has dealt a terrible blow to natural marriage, the voters' rights, the Constitution and this republic we call the United States of America," said Randy Tomasson.

As the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake, employees and friends were monitoring the court ruling all day via computer. They celebrated the judge's decision.

"We were ecstatic! It was a great moment for us," said Michael Westley, spokesman for the Utah Pride Center.

"We're really happy it went that direction," Westley continued. "Every indication was that it would go towards he unconstitutional ruling, but it was really reaffirming to see it go that direction."

"Looking at the families in California who have been put through so much, it means their lives are affirmed, and that makes me very happy," said Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center.

Wednesday's decision is just the latest milestone in a long and hard-fought battle, in both the legal and political worlds. Gay rights groups and others have long opposed Proposition 8, while a variety of church groups, including the Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, favor it.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the LDS Church said: "The Church ... regrets today's decision."

It also noted that California voters have twice voted that marriage should be as only between a man and a woman.

The statement went on to say: "We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society."

Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups says this ruling something he doesn't believe Utahns will want to see stand.

"They should be willing to stand up and say not only was the judge wrong, but the people of California were right and we agree with them," Waddoups said.

The LDS Church also predicts this ruling will add to the marriage debate, and leaders encourage people on all sides of this issue to "act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from the LDS Church]

In a statement, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch weighed in on the issue as well. He said, "One federal judge trumped seven million voters by making up a right that is not in the Constitution. This is what happens when judges make up the Constitution as they go along." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from Sen. Hatch]

Meanwhile, a rally celebrating the ruling is planned for 8 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol.


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John Daley


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