Proponents of same-sex marriage lined the streets of San Francisco Monday to celebrate the controversial ruling that knocked down Californias ban on gay unions earlier that day. Meanwhile, pro-family leaders across the nation criticized the ruling and prepared to enter another uphill battle in the larger cultural war to protect and preserve traditional marriage in America.
In his 27-page opinion, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said there appears to be no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite sex partners.
"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Kramer wrote in his decision.
At the crux of his ruling was his opinion that marriage is a basic "human right" -- a characterization long disputed among social conservatives and liberals.
Kramer wrote that the state's ban on same-sex "marriage" violates "the basic human right to marry the person of one's choice."
The ruling was made in light of a series of lawsuits brought by the city of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples a year ago, after the state Supreme Court halted the four-week marriage spree initiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom in February 2004.
Newsom and SF city officials handed out some 4,000 same- sex marriage licenses in defiance of state law before being ordered to stop.
In August, the state's high court invalidated those "marriage" licenses and ruled that Newsom had overstepped his authority in giving the green light to such unions.
The several lawsuits filed against Mayor Newsom and by same-sex marriage advocates were then consolidated before Judge Kramer, who released his opinion today.
The recent ruling is not retroactive, and will not validate the licenses issued in the past. However, if it is left to stand, same-sex couples will be allowed to "marry" across the state.
Kramers decision essentially strikes down Proposition 22 -- a statewide voter legislative initiative that was passed in 2004 with a 61.4 percent majority vote.
Californias same-sex marriage proponents hailed the ruling as a victory.
"Couples who have made a commitment in life deserve the legal commitment to match," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the attorneys in the case.
"This historic ruling affirms the state constitution's promise of equality and fairness for all people," Minter noted. "The court recognized that when the government denies lesbians and gay men the right to marry, it is treating them unequally."
Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, said the ruling brought the state one giant step closer to true equality for all California families."
"The court recognized that the government has no business putting obstacles in the path of people who are seeking to care for their loved ones, said Kors.
"Today's ruling affirms that lesbian and gay couples have the same need for the legal protections of marriage and the same right to equal protection and dignity under the law, he added.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, conservative and pro-family groups criticized the ludicrous opinion and pledged to fight until the ruling is overturned.
"This is a crazy ruling by an arrogant San Francisco judge who apparently hates marriage and the voters, said Randy Thomasson, executive director of Campaign for California Families (CCF), one of the groups that filed a lawsuit against Mayor Newsom last year.
According to Thomasson, CCF plans to appeal the ruling at a higher court.
Kramer has trashed the people's vote to keep marriage for a man and a woman and violated his oath to uphold the law instead of making new laws out of his own head, explained Thomasson. This is the worst type of judge. This case will be immediately appealed."
Lawyers from Liberty Counsel, the legal group that represented CCF in yesterdays case, said they will appeal the ruling immediately.
This ruling is not the end of the battle, said Mathew Staver, senior counsel and president of LC. It is just the beginning.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, agreed that the battle has just begun.
"Today's court decision will bolster efforts in Congress to vote on and pass a marriage protection amendment," said Perkins. "Today's judicial fire drill reinforces the need to fully protect marriage before the next judicial attack on society's most basic institution."
Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America (CWA), called Kramer's ruling "irrational and nonsensical.
"Yet another irrational judge, like his counterparts in Massachusetts, can't find a rational reason for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman," said Knight. "That's because these judges are no longer acting rationally and are imposing their own radical agenda, ignoring the law and the will of the people."
"This trial court ruling will be appealed and reversed, unless the appellate courts are content to allow a rogue judge to make a mockery of the state constitution and turn 'rational basis' into a meaningless term," said Jan LaRue, CWA's chief counsel.
"Any judge who can't find one rational reason for upholding marriage needs to turn in his robe," LaRue stated.
Currently, the California legislature is considering two bills that, if passed, would place a constitutional amendment defining marriage in the traditional sense on the November ballot.