What they’re saying about the Prop. 8 ruling

From Andy Pugno, general counsel for official Proposition 8 proponents ProtectMarriage.com, and also the Republican nominee in the 5th Assembly District:

“Today’s ruling is clearly a disappointment. The judge’s invalidation of the votes of over seven million Californians violates binding legal precedent and short-circuits the democratic process. But this is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage, as we now begin an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Prop 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop 8.

“But the reality is that Prop 8 was simply about restoring and strengthening the traditional definition of marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman, for the benefit of children, families and society.

“At trial we built a solid record to show that marriage has served as the foundation of the family and society as a whole, has universal functions and features attributable only to unions between a man and woman, has been defined in both law and language as a union between a man and a woman, and acts as the predominate relationship in which to create and support children.

“We are confident that the trial court record we built will help us ultimately prevail on appeal and reverse today’s ruling.

“Reversing today’s decision will also serve as a reminder that the role of the courts is to interpret and apply the law only as enacted by the people and their elected representatives, not to impose new social policies.

“And federal precedent is clear that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage. To prevail in the end, our opponents have a very difficult task of convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to abandon precedent and invent a new constitutional right.”

From California Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown:

“In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring:

“The California Republican Party is firm in its support of traditional marriage and looks forward to the matter being resolved in a higher court.”

From Jess Durfee, Southern California chair of the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party, on the party’s behalf:

“Today’s ruling is a victory for equality and an affirmation for all Californians who believe that our state must never be party to keeping committed, loving couples apart. This is but the latest victory in a long march toward full equality that has yet to be realized for the majority of LGBT couples and families in the United States. California Democrats will continue to fight on the side of basic fairness and equality under law until the right to marry is extended to all couples.”

From Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented ProtectMarriage.com in this litigation:

“In America, we should respect and uphold the right of a free people to make policy choices through the democratic process–especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the foundation of the country and beyond.

“We will certainly appeal this disappointing decision. Its impact could be devastating to marriage and the democratic process. It’s not radical for more than 7 million Californians to protect marriage as they’ve always known it. What would be radical would be to allow a handful of activists to gut the core of the American democratic system and, in addition, force the entire country to accept a system that intentionally denies children the mom and the dad they deserve.”

“The majority of California voters simply wished to preserve the historic definition of marriage. The other side’s attack upon their good will and motives is lamentable and preposterous. Imagine what would happen if every state constitutional amendment could be eliminated by small groups of wealthy activists who malign the intent of the people. It would no longer be America, but a tyranny of elitists.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“This is an enormous victory for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling today confirmed what many of us had felt was clear all along: that it is unconstitutional to take away the rights of gays and lesbians to enter into the institution of marriage.

“Most likely this verdict will be appealed and will go to the Supreme Court. The journey is not over, but today is a day to celebrate this historic victory for equal marriage rights. This is very good news.”

From Mary McAlister, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel:

“This is a classic case of judicial activism. The Constitution is unrecognizable in this opinion. This is simply the whim of one judge. It does not reflect the Constitution, the rule of law, or the will of the people. I am confident this decision will be overturned.”

Lots more, after the jump…

From California Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Judge Walker’s thoughtful, eloquent decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is a powerful validation of our nation’s tradition of full equality in the eyes of the law. This is a decision which reaffirms the principles and ideals enshrined in our Constitution, and only serves to underscore the fact that recognition of full equality for LGBT Americans is simply a matter of time.

“I also want to express my congratulations to the legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson, as well as Therese Stewart and Dennis Herrera representing the City and County of San Francisco for their brilliant, inspiring and historic arguments in this case. They have won a major victory on behalf of our Constitution and LGBT Americans everywhere.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Today’s ruling is a great victory for justice and equality. The court decision affirms what I strongly believe: there is no rational basis for discriminating against and denying marriage equality to gays and lesbians. Today’s victory is not the end of this struggle for equality. There will be more legal appeals and continued public debate. But I believe Judge Walker’s ruling will long be remembered as the decision that made marriage equality possible for all Americans.”

From state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for California and all caring couples who wish to make lifelong commitments to one another through marriage. Triumphantly we send the resounding message to the world that all people are treated equally under the laws of our nation. This decision not only upholds the constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, but also affirms our fundamental rights as human beings, which for so long have been denied. The decision underscores the respect, dignity and validation which all loving couples deserve.

“As we celebrate today’s decision, we must never forget how far we have come, or the courageous leaders upon whose shoulders we stand. They had certainly envisioned this day, but did not live to see it. It is through their courageous blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice that we found our victory.

“In the words of the Declaration of Independence, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“By declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Judge Walker reaffirmed the highest ideals of our republic. For far too long, our nation has unfairly denied fundamental rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation – clearly and sadly violating the equal protection doctrine in our state and federal Constitutions.

“Today’s decision is a giant leap forward in healing the wounds of government-sanctioned discrimination. State by state, we are finally recognizing and honoring all loving relationships and all families with the rights, privileges, and joys of marriage. I look forward to again officiating at weddings for all couples who wish to marry.”

From Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco:

“U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has issued a powerful, thoughtful, and well-reasoned decision. In overturning Proposition 8, this Court fulfilled its legacy as a champion for equality. The Court recognized that it is unconstitutional to put a minority’s rights up for a popular vote. Today’s decision reaffirmed our U.S. Constitution’s promise of equality for all.”

From San Francisco District Attorney and Democratic Attorney General nominee Kamala Harris:

“Today’s historic decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was a monumental step forward in the fight for equality.

“From the moment Attorney General Jerry Brown issued his analysis that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, I have proudly concurred with him. That position has been confirmed by Federal Judge Walker’s opinion today and stands in a proud line of jurisprudence reflected so boldly in 1948 when California’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion finally reached in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

“Attorney General Brown, Judge Walker, and I have all sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, if I am given the privilege to serve as California’s next Attorney General, I will not defend the anti-gay Proposition 8 in Federal court. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my opponent in the California Attorney General’s race, who promises to put the full weight of the state of California behind a defense of this discriminatory amendment.

“I pledge my support as this fight continues to another court and if necessary, the Supreme Court. I will continue to advocate for the defeat of Prop 8, whether we win that battle in the courts or at the ballot box. We may well face a lengthy battle on this issue but, as Dr. King said in 1967, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’”

From National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“Today’s decision affirms that the law cannot treat people differently based on their sexual orientation and that a majority cannot strip a minority group of its fundamental freedoms at the ballot box. Judge Walker ruled that there truly is no substance to the arguments of those who would deny equality to same-sex couples. This is another landmark victory for same-sex couples and their families who simply want the dignity and security of having the same freedom to marry as others, as well as for all Americans who believe in our nation’s bedrock principle of fairness. We are thrilled that the court has upheld the rights of liberty and equality enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

“The plaintiffs, represented by some of the most skilled attorneys in the country, laid out a well-crafted, meticulous case, backed by the most respected historians, psychologists, economists, and political scientists who study marriage, sexual orientation, and child development. Using the Prop 8 proponents’ own outrageous and inflammatory words, ads, and emails, the plaintiffs powerfully demonstrated that Prop 8 was a direct product of hostility, fear-mongering, and demonization of lesbians and gay men. And through the deeply moving testimony of the plaintiffs and other members of our community, they proved beyond question that denying same-sex couples the right to marry causes great harm to LGBT people and their children.

“Since 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that Hawaii’s marriage ban violated the Hawaii Constitution, four state supreme courts have struck down laws barring same-sex couples from marrying, two state supreme courts have held that same-sex couples must be given all of the material rights and benefits of marriage, and more than a dozen state legislatures have enacted laws either permitting same-sex couples to marry or providing them with some or most of the benefits of marriage as a step toward marriage equality itself. Last month, a federal court in Massachusetts held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminatorily denies legally married same-sex couples all federal protections and programs, has no rational basis. Today’s ruling by Judge Walker powerfully confirms this growing consensus that same-sex couples deserve basic fairness.”

UPDATE @ 4:27 P.M.: From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“This historic decision is a step forward in the march toward equal rights and reflects a growing legal consensus that marriage equality is protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

From John Dennis, the Republican nominee challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, in the 8th Congressional District:

“Judge Walker ruled that the law violated the equal protection clause and due process. I agree with the ruling. In fact, I voted against Proposition 8 because the government shouldn’t be in the marriage business. We don’t need gay marriage bans; we need equal benefit arrangements for gay couples.”

UPDATE @ 4:34 P.M.: From Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina:

“The people of California spoke clearly on this issue at the ballot box in 2008. That decision is being challenged through our court system and while I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling today, this is one in what will be a multi-step legal process.”

UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: From Meg Whitman’s campaign:
“Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.” –Darrel Ng

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.