August 4th, 2010
05:46 PM ET

Conservatives vow to fight Prop. 8 ruling, citing threat to gay marriage bans nationwide

Within moments of a federal judge striking down California's same-sex marriage ban Wednesday, religious conservatives vowed to fight the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, saying the decision threatens gay marriage bans nationwide.

"This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' " said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, referring to the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Perkins and other conservatives said the ruling, which found California's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, would overturn marriage bans adopted by dozens of states if it is upheld.

Perkins told CNN he will work to make the ruling an issue in this fall's midterm elections. "This is the age of the Tea Party, where you have people saying government is not listening," Perkins told CNN. "And here you have a judge saying seven million people (who supported California's Proposition 8 ) don't matter."

Some conservatives began calling for a renewed push to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, an effort that was largely abandoned after it failed during President George W. Bush's administration.

"Many senators who voted against the federal marriage amendment the last time it came up said publicly if a federal court interfered with a state's right to determine this issue, they would then be willing to vote for a federal marriage amendment," said Richard Land, who heads public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention. "Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to vote."

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Wednesday that California's Proposition 8, which passed via a 2008 ballot initiative, violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The case is now expected to go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision marks the first time a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Though they denounced the decision, conservatives said they anticipated it and had been planning their next legal and political steps for months.

"We have a strong team of attorneys and they knew we were not only arguing this before a single judge, we were planning an argument that would go through the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court and they made decisions based on that," said Ron Prentice, chairman of the executive committee of ProtectMarriage.com, a California-based coalition.

"This is round one of what we knew would be a multi-round battle," Prentice said.

Beyond challenging Wednesday's ruling in court, conservative activists said they will try to hammer home the message that the final Proposition 8 ruling will determine the constitutionality of other state bans on gay marriage.

"A lot of Americans sitting back right now probably don't realize that this case involves more than California," said

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst with CitizenLink, the public policy arm of Focus on the Family. "This case is not about Prop. 8, it's about all 50 states."

A Gallup poll last May found that 44 percent of Americans support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while 53 percent do not.

Since the late 1990s, 41 states have adopted constitutional amendments or other laws banning gay marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: California • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Politics • United States

soundoff (515 Responses)
  1. Mark

    Regardless of personal beliefs, this proposition is clearly an unconstitutional denial of due process and violative of equal protection under the 14th amendment. The Judge appropriately applied the well-settled principles and analysis required of any constitutional challenge. The opposition can call it what they want, but the law is the law...even when it doesn't suit them.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:30 am |
  2. Gary in Oregon

    On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court declared "Separate is NOT equal." It boggles my mind that over 50 years later that concept is still being debated.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  3. Simple Sinner

    I found it amazing how in the ruling that if you substitue incest couples or poligamy instead of gay the judge made the case for incest marriage and poligamy to be legal. Simply based on his ruling and what he said in the judgment. So, who is to say what is next? he really opened the door based on his ruling today.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:23 am |
  4. Larry

    For those who do not understand that a sexual preference is definitely not a choice. I have traced the "genetic" predisposition to homosexuality in my family and easily discovered that is appears only in my dad's maternal side of our family. Two second cousins, one first cousin and yours truly...so far. When I came out sexually, it was the most natural experience for me. I knew even before that first sexual encounter that I was attracted to the same sex from my early adolescence. I never felt any guilt about my life and sexual preferences. I've never been conscious of any discrimination either in my personal or professional lives. And for those who doubt the commitment of gay realtionships, I've been in a monogamous relationship with my partner for 21 years. When marriage is available to all Americans, we plan to enter into a matrimonial realtionship to guarantee ourselves all of the rights that straight couples enjoy.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:19 am |
    • James M

      Why do you wish to be married? Homosexuals have partnerships which protect their partner.

      August 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  5. kimfromsj

    I don't understand how conservatives claim they care about the constitution, and at the same time want to change it so that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" EXCLUDES gays, AND children of illegal immigrants who were born in the USA, AND sick people with pre-existing conditions that cannot get health insurance. I don't think they care about the constitution at all, they just use it as an excuse to push their right-wing agenda.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  6. Kamara

    The problem with this is it will force those that do not believe it to be right, to open their doors to it in ways that will undermine the foundations of their belief system, and open them up to lawsuits if they do not. We are not just talking Christians here, but Muslim, Judaism and Buddhism (please forgive me for those that I have missed). I mean if your going to shove something down someones throat and force them to open their doors to it, why stop there when there are people in line wanting multiple wives, children for spouses, and some even more twisted wanting unions with animals (yes as sick as it sounds its out there people). Gays have been offered civil unions, which most Americans find more palatable. However the force that is driving this issue will not be satisfied unless it can plow over other peoples rights and force spiritual leaders to marry them or else be sued into bankruptcy. Don't kid yourself, this is not about personal freedom, its about trampling religious freedom and shattering the last collective of morality.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:10 am |
    • JoeyRed

      This is an equality issue that was placed before the court pertaining to a service that a "state" offers to its citizens. This is not about private citizens providing a service to others that happens to conflict with their moral beliefs. "Equal is getting the same thing, at the same time and in the same place" ~Thurgood Marshall
      IF City Hall decided to hand out red lollipops it must distribute those lollipops to all of its citizens, it is not allowed to pick and choose who gets them and it can't decide that some people get red and others get yellow. When you decide to hand out lollipops from your front door you have the right to pick and choose who gets one. E-Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y, say it with me!!!

      August 5, 2010 at 2:49 am |
    • Irish Red

      You obviously have no idea what we are asking for, this has nothing to do with religion. We are already more spiritually connected then many married couples we know. We are asking for the same legal rights offered to married couples...including the first cousins that are allowed to marry in many states that have gay marriage bans.

      August 5, 2010 at 3:01 am |
    • Chuck

      Buddhism has no problem with homosexuality. I should know. I'm Buddhist. Gay marriage being allowed does not force you into gay marriage. You still have the right to marry a straight person if you want. No one's doing any shoving except the religious people talking about God when we're talking about legal rights. If a Church doesn't want to wed gay people they don't have to, but when you sign a marriage license you're signing a contract... nothing to do with God. So please, for the love of God, know what you're talking about before shooting off.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  7. Yo

    Hey now, this threatens Conservative hypocrisy, they like to keep it secret and in the bathrooms...

    August 5, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  8. teeda

    I remember my gay friends telling me in the 70's that being gay was about flaunting convention and that included the convention of monogamy and marriage. They boasted of their promiscuity – their orgies – as a badge of honour. Either marriage has changed so much that it doesn't represent the oppressiveness that it used to or gay people are becoming much more conservative. I wonder if there will be a gay version of marriage and a straight version and that when we talk about marriage we will have to first determine if it is a gay marriage situation or a straight marriage situation in order to understand our terms of reference...not that there is anything wrong with that 🙂

    August 5, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  9. Tim

    And one last point @Mark, you can't use religious practices (example: annulment) to have an argument over what's right for society. Those are your personal beliefs and have influence within the 4 walls of your home; the freedom of speech this country gives you. Just like you wouldn't want to follow Judaic beliefs in your home just because Noah down the street follows them, nor should society have to follow what you, I or anyone else influences. Allowing gays to marry doesn't influence me. They already hold hands and do other forms of PDAs; so they're mixed into our culture as it is. In all honesty, the world isn't going to end if gays marry; and if (and this is a big if) conservatives are right that being gay is a sin, then it will be on those individuals to answer for the way they were born; not you nor me.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:46 am |
  10. ybs

    Have problems with gays & lesbians? Go beat off, will ya?

    August 5, 2010 at 1:44 am |
  11. Ann Olsen

    The fifty percent divorce rate is not true–and studies have proven it is a misleading and false statistic again and again. The divorce rate is very much dependent on education, income, and other social factors. In some areas, the divorce rate is as low as 20%. Gay marriage is still not supported by the majority. I would like to put lie detectors on everyone...I predict the disapproval of homosexual marriage and lifestyle would be much higher than anyone supposed. A lot of people give lip service to "gay rights," but in reality are just grateful that they themselves, or their children, are NOT gay.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • Chuck

      Actually recent polls show approval to be at the highest it's been in a while.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  12. Austin J

    Whether or not the majority of Americans think gay marriage is right or not is a non- issue. The fact remains that any ban is discriminatory as there are no proven adverse affects on society from Gay marriage. Separation between Church and State, and the concept of America being a majority Christian nation is also a non issue under that key principal.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  13. juxtapoz

    Hey, the tea partiers said they wanted government OUT OF THE WAY, didn't they? They said they wanted government out of our lives. They wanted DEREGULATION, remember? Less regulation, more freedom, less government, more liberty. But as soon as somebody does something THEY don't like, they wanna change the law. They don't mind if you blow up the wrong country for a lie about WMDs that don't exist, no sir. They don't mind if you run a bank that robs investors blind, or an oil company that cuts corners wherever possible. But let some gay people try to get married and look! They just LOOOOVE big government telling people what to do.

    Their reason for opposing this has nothing to do with traditional marriage or "saving society". If it did, they'd protest all those stupid reality shows where shallow airheads compete to marry millionaires(and FOX had more than a few). They'd protest child abusing priests if they cared so much about the sanctity of Christian values. Instead, they put all this energy into fighting gay marriage while the Vatican drags its feet on prosecuting child molesters(the latest Vatican ruling is that ordaining a woman to be a priest will get you auto-defrocked, but child abuse is still handled case-by-case). THERE's your "Christian values" for ya!

    August 5, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  14. IndyMan

    Fighting for hate. What a waste of time and money and effort. Conservatives hate anything that speaks of bridging our similarities. They only want to keep the world at war and apart. This is what makes conservatives happy; misery.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  15. NOLA Steve

    I believe that the bible beaters tried to pass this same sort of hate bill back in the 70's except it was trying to oust all the gay teachers since it was believed back then that they would turn the little kiddies into a bunch of "perverts and derelics", watch the movie "Milk". Didn't pass then and won't hold up this time. I applaud this judge, no matter what his preference is sexually. He did the right thing by ruling this was a violation of the Constitution, affording ALL Americans the same rights.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  16. One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

    I think everyone here should read the full opinion from the Iowa Supreme Court –it was handed down over a year ago–4/3/09 in a unanimous ruling. The court (who is made up of seven heterosexual judges–to the best of my knowledge) found no reason to discriminate against gay marriage because there is no social interest in doing so.

    "The objectives asserted by the County were (1) tradition, (2) promoting the optimal environment for children, (3) promoting procreation, (4) promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships, and (5) preservation of state resources."

    The case reviewed each of these arguments and found that none of them held water.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  17. Jerad

    I would like to know how it is that the constitution is a sacred text for conservatives until it applies in a way they don't like and then every provision is up for a majority vote. Just like I have to deal with the fact that certain people that I don't like have freedom of speech, so should conservatives have to deal with the fact that people they don't like have equal protection under the law.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  18. John Raines

    The problem with the ruling is that if left to stand it has kicked open the barn door to other types of marriages, including bigamy, polygamy, adults being allowed to marry 12 year old girls or boys (which is common in many cultures), and so forth. Where do we draw the line, or do we? We already know that the next ones waiting in the wings are the polygamists and the pedophiles who want to be with young teens. Lawsuits have been filed in Utah and even tried in California to over turn the laws banning these marriages. Society needs to find the forum in which to redefine an acceptable redefinition of marriage. I personally oppose courts imposing their wills, and that is what happened here.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Chuck

      No it doesn't. Gay marriage is still between two people. The only requirement that's changed is the sex of the people involved.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
    • David Johnson

      We have laws against bigamy and polygamy. I assume these laws will be applied to straight and gay people alike.

      Actually, if everyone is an adult, I don't see the problem with polygamy. But, my extra wives must pluck their brows. That one Morman fundamentalist with the unibrow was a real turnoff.

      Children below the age of consent, cannot marry. Ask the Morman fundamentalist about that.

      The problem with the ruling is that if left to stand it has kicked open the barn door to other types of marriages, including bigamy, polygamy, adults being allowed to marry 12 year old girls or boys (which is common in many cultures), and so forth. Where do we draw the line, or do we? We already know that the next ones waiting in the wings are the polygamists and the pedophiles who want to be with young teens. Lawsuits have been filed in Utah and even tried in California to over turn the laws banning these marriages. Society needs to find the forum in which to redefine an acceptable redefinition of marriage. I personally oppose courts imposing their wills, and that is what happened here

      August 6, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  19. Mathew

    Why is that conservatives scream bloody murder about government intrusion...but suddenly want the government to essentially interfere on the issue of gay marriage?

    August 5, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  20. Joe from Ohio

    These righties need to get a life. Instead of wasting your time fighting this, why don't you go volunteer at a animal shelter, homeless shelter, library, city park, or any other public place that needs able bodies. What would Jesus do???

    August 5, 2010 at 12:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.