A federal judge's decision to rule California's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional was a "terrible blow" to supporters of traditional marriage, said the leader of a California-based pro-family group.
"Natural marriage, voter rights, the Constitution, and our republic called the United States of America have all been dealt a terrible blow," said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, in a statement.
In a 136-page decision released Wednesday, Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California referred to the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment and said California's Proposition 8 puts unconstitutional burdens on the fundamental right to marry and "creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
"The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples," Walker wrote. "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."
Thomasson, however, called the judge's ruling unconstitutional because the Constitution guarantees that state policies be decided by the people and not by federal judges.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg, similarly, called the judge's decision "pretty shocking" because the trial is not only about marriage but about the "fundamental freedom of having your vote count and having the liberty to express and live by your religious beliefs."
Prop. 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, was passed in the November 2008 state elections by 52 percent of California voters.
Walker's ruling, if not appealed, would allow people of the same sex to marry in California.
The Prop. 8 legal defense team, however, filed a motion Tuesday to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to immediately stay Walker's decision. If a stay is granted, the order will not be enacted while the appeals process occurs.
Both sides of the same-sex marriage debate agree that the stakes are high in the landmark case because it will likely set a precedent for other states in the nation.
"This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' overturning the marriage laws of 45 states," warned Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council. "It's time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box."
The California same-sex marriage battle is expected to continue to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then on to the U.S. Supreme Court, if it accepts the case.
The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.