August 4th, 2010 | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Judge Overturns California's Proposition 8 (UPDATED with Basic Rights Oregon comment)

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Evan Wolfson and supporters in Oregon of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples have reason to celebrate today.

A federal judge in San Francisco has struck down California's Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure in that state banning same-sex marriage.

UPDATE: Basic Rights Oregon executive director Jeana Frazzini linked the decision to what she hopes is a push in Oregon ultimately to ask voters to overturn Measure 36, this state's voter-approved ban from 2004 on same-sex marriage.

"This decision is encouraging and adds to the growing momentum here in our own state for the freedom to marry," Frazzini said in a a press release. "We are making progress day by day through conversations, one Oregonian to another. Committed couples, whether they are gay or straight, hope to marry for similar reasons - to make a lifetime promise to share the joys and sorrows that life brings. The judge's ruling reflects the growing consensus that there is simply no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage. Our state will be stronger when all committed couples can marry the person they love."

While we wait for comment from Basic Rights Oregon on this historic ruling,

And below is what Wolfson, the executive director of Freedom to Marry, has to say. Wolfson was in Oregon last November at the time that voters in Maine and Washington were delivering a mixed bag on gay rights with voters in Maine overturning marriage rights for same-sex couples and Washington voters preserving domestic partnership rights for couples in their state. Today's news is obviously much better for Wolfson, who notes in this press release that the decision is but a step in a long road for full equal rights.
"Today's federal ruling strikes down a cruel and unfair constitutional amendment that should never have become law and affirms that the freedom to marry belongs to every American. As the first court to strike down race restrictions on marriage said in 1948, "the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice." There is no gay exception in the Constitution to personal choice and the right to marry, and there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

Judge Walker's decision will be appealed and litigation will continue, but what we witnessed in the clear light of his courtroom cannot be erased. The witnesses, evidence, and arguments all demonstrated what we've long known: exclusion from marriage harms committed same-sex couples and their families, while helping no one, and the unjustified and unfair denial of marriage to same-sex couples violates the United States Constitution. The judge's ruling reflects the growing consensus in courtrooms and legislatures across the country, and around the world, that there is simply no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

As today's trial court ruling is appealed and defended, there is much left to accomplish across the country. 44 states continue to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry, and federal marriage discrimination persists. Today's win provides increased momentum to the national movement to end exclusion from marriage. But the courts don't operate in a vacuum, and we must work to maximize our chances of winning down the road. The crucial work of changing hearts and minds, securing the freedom to marry in more states, and ending federal marriage discrimination is more urgent than ever, in order to build on today's momentum and encourage other decision-makers to do the right thing and end exclusion from marriage."

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