Federal Court Ruling on Gay Marriage to be Released Wednesday

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal court will release on Wednesday the ruling of the judge who presided over the landmark gay marriage court battle in California earlier this year.

The long-awaited ruling of Judge Vaughn R. Walker will be issued nearly two months after closing arguments were delivered in the battle over California's voter-approved marriage definition and more than five months after the conclusion of 13 days of testimonies.

The contentious court case seeks to determine whether gay marriage is a constitutional right and, in effect, whether the decision of the majority to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman violates that right.

The case, which has been followed closely by people on both sides of the marriage debate, could lead to a precedent for whether gay marriage becomes legal nationwide and – as traditional marriage advocates say – whether the nation's democratic principles will be upheld.

If federal judge Walker decides to overturn California's Proposition 8, marriage laws in 45 states and the federal Defense of Marriage Act may ultimately be nullified, law experts say.

Prop. 8, which California voters passed in 2008, effectively defined marriage in the state's constitution as the union of one man and one woman. The amendment was passed by 52 percent of California voters.

Regardless of how the Walker rules, both sides have vowed to file an appeal, bringing the case one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before the question of whether gay Americans have a right to marry reaches the high court, it would first have to go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.