I object to some of what Charles Donovan wrote in his Aug. 24 column concerning the California Proposition 8 ruling (“Will judge’s same-sex marriage ruling hold up on appeal?”). He stated that Judge Vaughn Walker “makes explicit with aggressive finding after aggressive finding, that the American people are incapable of reasoned debate.”

I have read all 130 pages of Judge Walker’s decision, and he does no such thing. He merely applies the principles of the spirit of the 14th Amendment to the Proposition 8 ruling, and notes that constitutional limits can exist on popular decisions because the Constitution is itself a popular decision.

Judge Walker rightly pointed out that popular elections cannot abrogate fundamental constitutional rights, one of which is equal protection of the law.

He was asked to judge the pro-Prop 8 lawyers’ argument that the state had an interest in regulating gender in marriage. He noted that over time, the state has scaled back almost to nonexistence its legal distinctions between men and women in marriage, and had made gender discrimination, legally speaking, “antiquated” in marriage.

The state of California makes no gender distinctions in marriage, and so Judge Walker ruled that the state of California had no existing gender regulations in marriage.

He then was asked to judge whether same-sex marriage was constitutionally prohibited based on an interest in promoting procreation, something that the evidence and California state law both suggest is not the case.

This in no way constitutes a rejection of the American people’s rationality in decision-making. His ruling actually uses a long-term process of rational decision-making, through which the people of California and their representatives steadily eroded gender barriers in marriage, in its legal reasoning. Mr. Donovan’s attacks on Judge Walker’s respect for popular choice are, in that light, nothing but disingenuous.


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