Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 7:40 am | Overcast 65º


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Community Reacts to Ruling Overturning State’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

A federal judge declares California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, but the battle is far from over

Fiesta wasn’t the only party in downtown Santa Barbara on Wednesday night.

The gay and lesbian community celebrated a ruling by U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, announced earlier in the day, that declared California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, saying that no state interest or “moral disapproval” justified discriminating against gay and lesbian couples.

Walker said the voter-approved ballot measure violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process of law. As previous cases have cited state constitutions, this was the first in the country to outlaw a marriage ban federally.

Shortly after the ruling, Walker issued a temporary stay of its impact and challenged attorneys opposing the initiative to act by Friday. While many allies see this move as a step in the right direction, others acknowledge they have a long way to go.

“This is a big hurdle over a very large river,” said Sue Sadler-Pare, who brought her partner of 20 years, Cathie, to Jill’s Place, 634 Santa Barbara St., to celebrate. “We still have big steps to climb. All adults should have the right to marry; it shouldn’t matter if you are gay or straight.”

Lawyers on both sides say the ruling will be appealed and the case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in a few years.

Those who oppose the ruling contend that Walker ruled with bias.

Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, said in an opinion piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle that an openly gay judge substituted his views for those of the American people.

“Judge Walker is off-base: Same-sex marriage is not a civil right, it is a civil wrong,” she wrote. “The Supreme Court and Congress will reject his biased view.”

Former Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said the appeals process serves as a check and balance that ensures an objective ruling, and that it’s a question of equal rights.

“The bottom line is people have the right to happiness,” Blum said. “I don’t see why gay marriage would affect me and my husband’s marriage. ... All we can do now is hope.”

David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation, said youths are coming out of the closet at younger ages because of media trends, which he said also makes them more susceptible to discrimination.

He said the LGBTQ civil rights movement has come a long way since his involvement in the cause began 21 years ago, adding that he hopes it will become the biggest movement of his generation.

“If enough states’ momentum push forward,” he said, “marriage equality will have some impact on the Supreme Court.”

Noozhawk intern Alex Kacik is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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