California Judge to Decide Fate of Proposition 8

The high-powered legal teams on both sides of a California trial to decide whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right for gay couples to marry gave their final arguments Wednesday (June 16), leaving the matter in the hands of federal judge Vaughn Walker.

At issue is whether California's Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage passed by voters two years ago, is constitutional. One of the lawyers trying to strike the measure down is former U.S. solicitor general Theodore Olson, who argued that the prohibition on gay marriage was similar to bans on interracial marriage struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court decades ago.

But Washington lawyer Charles Cooper, who argued in favor of the proposition, told the judge the policy served the interest of the community by promoting procreation. He also pointed out that the vast majority of courts that have ruled on the issue upheld bans on same-sex marriage. "It is a judicial tsunami they are asking you to sail into," he said, according to the Washington Post .

Walker had tough questions for both sides. He asked Cooper whether people got married to benefit their communities and asked Olson why civil unions would not be sufficient to protect the rights of gays and lesbians, noted the Los Angeles Times .

The judge had an even more basic question for Cooper, noted the San Jose Mercury News . "Why," he asked Cooper, "did you present but one witness on this subject?"

Walker is expected to rule on the case this summer, but many observers expect the case to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court. 


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