The ruling was handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker after two gay couples filed a lawsuit, claiming Proposition 8 violated their civil rights.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged its members to back the controversial referendum in 2008. The measure passed by a 4-point margin in November of 2008, sparking demonstrations and backlash against the LDS Church.
Some LDS meeting houses and buildings were vandalized after the 2008 election, and some LDS temples were sent white powder in envelopes with messages critical of the Church's involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign. Some LDS Church members' homes were vandalized in California, while some lost their jobs for supporting the proposition.
In its decision, the court ruled that:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Proponents of Proposition 8 have indicated that they will appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case would then be passed up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even though the court ruled in favor of gay marriage, same sex unions will not be allowed to resume in California until the judge decides whether the order should be suspended. With an appeal is pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Walker ordered both sides to submit written arguments by Aug. 6 on the suspension of the ruling.
LDS Church statement on Prop. 8 ruling
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision. California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society.
“We recognize that this decision represents only the opening of a vigorous debate in the courts over the rights of the people to define and protect this most fundamental institution—marriage.
“There is no doubt that today’s ruling will add to the marriage debate in this country and we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.”