Prop. 8 has got to go

Shane Finneran

By Shane Finneran
City Times

Federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down California’s ban of same-sex marriage on Aug. 4 because the Marriage Protection Act violates the United States Constitution. Critics of the ruling say the judge invalidated a law that a majority of California voters had approved. They’re right: he did. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Walker has been accused of judicial activism or stepping beyond his proper authority as a judge and undermining the will of California voters, who had passed the Act as Proposition 8 by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. In my opinion, however, Walker’s ruling is an example of our nation’s legal system working just as intended. After all, federal judges are supposed to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Our nation’s founders respected the will of the people but also recognized that significant portions of the people – say, 52 percent – sometimes get carried away. With this in mind, the founders decided to spread the government’s power. For instance, the people and their representatives were given the power to pass laws while federal judges were given the power to challenge laws that do not jibe with the U.S. Constitution.

Like Judge Walker, I think the California Marriage Protection Act does not comply with the Constitution. As the judge noted, U.S. courts have clearly established that the right to marry is one of our society’s most important freedoms.

The act denies this freedom to certain people for no reason other than their sexual orientation. This means the California Marriage Protection Act violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process – so the act has got to go.

(Shane Finneran is a City Times staff writer)