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. RG

    In my opinion, marriage should be between anyone who loves each other, whether its guy-girl, guy-guy, girl-girl, orguy-monkey

    August 5, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  2. braden``

    I am neither for or again Prop 8 but I had this discussion. Only because I had a problem with the main argument.
    ME: You say the law treats gays unequally.
    HIM:Yes it does.
    ME: Under the current law is it illegal for a Gay man to marry another man?
    HIM: Yes.
    ME: And under the current law is it illegal for a straight man to marry another man?
    HIM: Yes.
    ME: Excuse me for sounding insensitive but can you see you might need to reconsider your argument. As written the law is not unequal. Neither a gay man or a straight man can marry another man. No wonder its hard to get this ruling figured out.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • RG

      WHY would a straight guy marry another guy? It does affect only gays because straight people wouldnt marry someone of their own gender.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:03 am |
    • mike cutter


      August 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • adam

      Well, when the two voices in your head quit talking to each other maybe you will wake up and realize that The Gay man cannot marry the object of his affection and the Straight man can. And that is not equal.

      August 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  3. ps

    I full support the right of gays to marry. They should have to suffer the negative affects of being legally bound to one person for the rest of their lives and have to suffer through the difficulties and financial mess of divorcing the loser they married. Right now, they have the luxury of just being able to leave whenever they don't like the relationship anymore. Marriage changes all of that and it can be HELL.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  4. rougher63

    Correction shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  5. John

    It is laughable to listen to people who say that marriage should only be defined as between a man and woman, that it's purpose is to procreate and that has huge religious significance. I don't see these same people condone divorce or disavow those married couples who have no children. By there reasoning should we identify those married couples who have no children and nullify their marriage or prevent those people who are sterile from getting married. Should women have their tubes tied or men who have vasectomies be forced out of there marriage because they aren't able to have children?

    Gay marriage should be legalized. Marriage should be between 2 people who love each other and should receive all federal benefits. As a gay person in a committed relationship for 15 years I still feel like a 2nd class citizen. For those pro Prop. 8 supporters and likely conservatives, I say to you....if you are so keen on preventing gay people from marrying don't you agree that if you are a married couple that gets a divorce, you owe the federal governments all the financial benefits in terms of tax breaks you got as a married couple. That should help the federal deficit.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  6. rougher63

    It should be a state issue. If New York or Minnesota want gay marriage they should be able to do it, and the states that don't should be able to ban it. Too much federal government. Conservatives and liberals should be able to have it both ways.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • Tim

      I have now been alive 29 years, and I do consider myself to still be very young, but I have figured out one thing in those 29 years: Conservatives don't want anything different from them; diversity is the scariest word they've ever heard. They fear the courts telling them what to do, when they should realize the courts aren't telling them what to do, the courts are just stepping in when we, as imperfect humans push for our beliefs to drive how others live their lives. I respectfully disagree that homosexuality is wrong, despite my being a heterosexual man who enjoys the opposite gender very much.

      Conservatives should be careful when they say they don't want government telling them what they can and can't do. This judge simply over turned what 7 million people wrongfully approved of. Yes he's one voice, but he's a voice we put into his position via electing Presidents that nominate judges and congresspersons who confirm the nominees.

      Bad news Tea Partyers: luckily the government doesn't trust you to rule this country. As a Christian, a logical thinker, and one who recognizes the Bible was written by imperfect people 2,000 years ago: THANK GOD FOR THE USA!

      August 5, 2010 at 1:40 am |
    • adam

      "State's Rights" has always been the battle cry for those who wish to divide this country. It is Un-American!

      August 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  7. lucy2

    Happy to see the mix of people in support of this, and understanding that it's a civil rights issue, plain and simple. Not everyone has to like it, and churches don't have to support it, but none of that matters when it comes to people having equal rights under the law. I agree with whoever said that in a couple of decades, people will look back on this very differently and clearly see that equality is a must, as they do now with the civil rights movements in the 50s and 60s, and before that women winning the right to vote.
    Feels like progress is being made, however slowly.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  8. American

    I am still waiting for one of these so-called conservatives to tell me how gay marriages undermines straight marriage. Can you do it without quoting Leviticus 20 which also says that adulterers should be put to death?

    August 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  9. Andrew

    It disappoints me that some of the worst things in the history of time have been carried out in the name of God. You wanna talk about your crutches, there's the largest one ever. And people will openly accept the term crutch in reference to God, even though crutches are something to use when you can't do it on your own. Alcohol and drugs are considered crutches, wanna be associated with that? Probably not.

    My point is, why do the vast majority of super religious christians believe it to be their own personal job to make sure everyone, thinks, talks, acts, and prays like them? I think it's because they take the bible too literally. It's a set of stories written by men (and women) of this earth, not by the lord himself. therefore the bible contains fallacies. Learn to be a good person and respect those around you the way you would like to be respected. Let them be happy (or miserable as the joke goes) and do as they please with their lives, because that's what you want for your life and nobody likes a hypocrite.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  10. Scott A

    If it involves someone's civil rights or 9/11 responders' health care, conservatives are against it. Being a good person and being a conservative just don't mix.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • Get over it

      In the modern sense of the term 'conservative', you're right. The only party that recognizes individual rights and responsibilities are the Libertarians. And unfortunately for all believers of constitutional freedom, the Libertarians just aren't organized or powerful enough to have an impact. However if you believe in the basic tenant that with reasonable application of law, a person should have the right to do whatever he or she wants so long as those actions don't infringe on another's right to do the same, you might be a Libertarian.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  11. katiepea

    anyone who thinks gays should be allowed to be married needs to remove yourself from the united states immediately. go somwhere where there isn't equal rights. go somewhere where the government tells you how to live. the end. if you think this you are an idiot.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • Get over it

      Did you mean anyone who thanks gays should NOT be allowed to marry? Sorry, just looked like a type-o.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  12. james

    Read the 1st amendment to the constitution. All these people are talking about religion and marriage... Our gov't has no place in deciding who should be with their partner. get over it!

    August 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  13. Pinkpuffy

    stop wasting taxpayer money defending this crap. Let them marry and for crying out loud make weed legal so we can tax the crap out of it and get some deng programs and school funding back.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  14. Vynn

    "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."

    Obviously, the Tea Party has no comprehention of our system of government, or the Constitution. This is NOT a democracy folks....this is a constitutional republic. The majority CANNOT vote away the constitional rights of the minority. If you claim to respect the constitution, then learn to respect and accept the decisions of it's consitional branches acting under it's guidance.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  15. Scott

    "7 million people who supported Proposition 8 don't matter."

    Ummm...DUH! They DIDN'T matter. Proposition 8 should never have even been put up for a vote. Period. Everyone has their own opinions about what marriage means to them. Some people think that they're limited to opposite-sex couples. Others think it includes same-sex couples. I am of the latter. Government is therefore in no position to deprive same-sex couples who seek the same rights and recognition at the state and federal levels as opposite-sex couples already are. This is NOT a religious issue! This is an issue of being acknowledged and treated equally by the State.

    -Portland, OR

    August 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  16. sparknut

    So religious conservatives are in an uproar about this. But in general conservatives push for getting government out of people's lives. So why is it that they are so determined to get the government involved in saying who I can and cannot marry?
    Or is it too much to ask for consistency?.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • Andrew

      it's too much to ask for consistency. I mean come on, these are probably the same people that don't believe dinosaurs actually existed, what do you expect?

      August 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  17. realworld

    Conservatives to fight anything that wasn't proposed by themselves.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  18. JJ

    What a pathetic pity that religious putzes can't come to terms with the fact that they have an enemy who will always defeat them and always destroy what they hold dear: TIME.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Sean

    All this debate over a word, marriage. The fact is the the union of marriage is one conducted by a secular state. The word may have its origin in religion, but it is now used in a different context. If churches or other religious institutions issued marriage licenses then the debate would have a foundation, but they do not. The state can not discriminate based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

    As for homosexuality being a choice; I can assure you that it is not. Sexual attraction is guided by the involuntary release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Whether these transmitters are guided by genetics or environmental conditions is irrelevant, the choice does not exist. Furthermore, comparing harmful behavior like serial killing and child molestation is ridiculous. Homosexuality is not harmful to one's self or others.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  20. MatterOfFact

    It does say a heap when so many conservatives that have denounced gay behavior have in turn been caught having gay sex. Mature, confident people usually pay attention to their own lives and don't try to control everyone else.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
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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.