By now you have no doubt heard that a federal judge in California has struck down Proposition Eight, a voter referendum that outlawed gay marriage. Go here for a quick summary of the basic facts.

I have not had a chance yet to read the entire decision, and I do not intend to attempt a legal analysis of its merits. I am very happy about it, of course, as should anyone who cares about basic justice and the rights of homosexuals. There were two things that struck me, however, upon hearing the news of the judge’s decision.

First, as I mentioned in this post, a few weeks ago I spent an afternoon at the Virginia Home Educator’s Conference. While I was there I listened to a keynote talk given by Ken Ham. During the talk he said explicitly, and with great enthusiasm, that the only reason (his words) for opposing gay marriage were the Bible’s teachings about marriage and homosexuality. It was a rare example of Ham saying something that was true. If there is a decent, secular argument against granting to gay couples the same legal rights we grant to straight couples, I have yet to hear it.

It also occurred to me that there are a lot of similarities between this decision and the decision in the Dover evolution case. Hard-core right-wingers live in a fantasy world of their own creation. It is a world in which creationism and ID are legitimate science and evolution is not. It is also a world in which gay couples pose some sort of threat to heterosexual marriage, or are too morally suspect to raise children. When thundered from a stage or a pulpit to a generally supportive audience, such notions play very well. But put them in a forum with rules of evidence and a sober, nonemotional tone, and they crumble. Judge Walker in this case was absolutely scathing towards the defense, just as Judge Jones was in the Dover case. When forced to defend their ideas rationally, the right-wingers always come off looking like fools.

It’s just a pity they aren’t forced to do it more often.


  1. #1 Uncle Bob
    August 8, 2010

    what is a pity is few read the court papers, and just listen to regurgitated right wing explanations of what the judge actually said, how the case actually went, what evidence was actually presented….how the frick’in legal system actually works!

    If you believe the propaganda, this was an activist gay judge (appointed by Bush Sr. mind you) who destroyed/ignored the constitution, and going one further, calling the majority in CA that voted on the ballot bigots and irrelevant.

    (they are correct on the irrelevant part, but not for the reason they think)

  2. #2 BaldApe
    August 8, 2010

    When forced to defend their ideas rationally, the right-wingers always come off looking like fools.

    I discovered through 30 years of working with the public that you can’t make a fool feel like a fool. Unfortunately, they will never look like fools to themselves.

  3. #3 BathTub
    August 8, 2010

    I just saw a clip of Pat Robertson complaining about it. Apparently it’s part of a movement by Teh Gays to destroy Marriage and The Church!

  4. #4 Tyler DiPietro
    August 8, 2010

    The best of all possible arguments against gay marriage is that GOD HATES FAGS.

  5. #5 sadpanda
    August 8, 2010

    The two main lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case did an excellent job on TV appearances today taking down all the anti-gay talking points. Should be required viewing for anyone against marriage equality.

    Meet The Press (8/8/2010) – David Boies vs. Tony Perkins

    Fox News (8/8/2010) – Ted Olson vs. Chris Wallace

  6. #6 Jud
    August 9, 2010

    Heard part of an NPR “Talk of the Nation” segment on the ruling last week. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage was talking about the negative impacts of gay marriage. One of the negative impacts he mentioned was a Methodist association in Hew Jersey losing its tax exemption because it refused to allow a gay wedding. Wow! The government cracking down on churches? Sounded pretty totalitarian. So I decided to check it out.

    Here’s the story: There’s a beach pavilion in New Jersey owned by an association. The property has received a tax exemption for years on the basis that it is available for public use. Then a gay couple wanted to use it for their wedding ceremony, and voila! – not public any more, now they’re a “Methodist” association with restrictive policies on the property that preclude gay weddings. A local court said if the property wasn’t open to the public, they couldn’t be exempt from tax on the basis that they were a public facility. Logical, and the ruling was widely supported by the local community, including their Congressman.

    This is the event the NOM representative characterized as depriving Methodists of a tax exemption, making it sound like some sort of First Amendment violation. I hear Brian Brown talk for 2 minutes, and what he says turns out to be a bald-faced lie. This doesn’t surprise me a bit, but for anyone at all uncertain about who’s got truth on their side, it should be instructive.

  7. #7 chris
    August 9, 2010

    Brian Brown is a loathsome individual. Go to Prop 8 Trial Tracker for as much info about this trial as you could ever want. You can listen to Brian Brown for way longer than 2 minutes and still hear nothing but bald-faced lies.

  8. #8 Valhar2000
    August 9, 2010

    I am happy about this ruling, even though I defended the California Supreme Court when they upheld the amendment. I only defended them because it seemed to me that they were narrowly applying the law, rather than “negating human rights”* as some said, so I am very glad that another judge has found a nice, legal way to send Proposition 8 to the rubbish bin where it belongs.

    * Even if that is what they, indirectly, ended up doing.

  9. #9 Amber
    August 9, 2010

    This ruling made me extremely happy. I’m hoping that it doesn’t take to long to take it to the supreme court. We need a federal ruling saying that it’s unconstitutional to prohibit someone from marrying the person of their choice as was done in the 60’s for interracial marriage.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    August 9, 2010

    what is a pity is few read the court papers, and just listen to regurgitated right wing explanations of what the judge actually said, how the case actually went, what evidence was actually presented

    And it was supposed to be televised… tragedy that it wasn’t. The defense witnesses were a disaster.

  11. #11 Kevin
    August 9, 2010


    That’s Ocean Grove, NJ. The entire TOWN is actually a “Methodist retreat”. No driving on Sundays allowed – no going on the beach until after 1 pm on Sundays. Even Teddy Roosevelt walked through town on that account (tho Teddy was a great walker anyway).

    I performed at the tabernacle in question twice (secular music as part of a performing arts series the town sponsored — Saturdays only, please). Great acoustics. Hard seats. A smaller version of the Mormon tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

    I was not aware that Methodists were intolerant bigots until this particular case came up.

    Good for New Jersey.

  12. #12 Jud
    August 9, 2010

    That’s Ocean Grove, NJ. The entire TOWN is actually a “Methodist retreat.”

    Yeah, except when a tax exemption depends on Ocean Grove and its pavilion being a public place.

    Kinda ironically appropriate that their greed was the means of undoing their bigotry, eh? 😀

  13. #13 Max
    August 11, 2010

    Actually, for what it’s worth, Sunday driving in Ocean Grove has been legal since some time in the 80’s.

  14. #14 Ahab
    August 16, 2010

    The overturning of Prop 8 is good progress, although the fight for same-sex marriage is far from over. I’m not sure what could happen if the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Jason makes a good point about religion and politics. While groups such as NOM make hollow arguments about “protecting children” and “safeguarding the family”, opposition to same-sex marriage is ultimately about religious bias. Almost every homophobe I’ve ever met justified their homophobia on some level with the Bible.

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