Via various sources (including this one), I learn that a decision is expected sometime between 1 pm and 3 pm today (PST) in the federal case seeking to overturn Proposition 8. “It will be available electronically to the public not only through PACER but also directly from the court’s website, www.cand.uscourts.gov , free of charge soon after it is e-filed.”
I expect that Judge Vaughn Walker will overturn the popular initiative. And while gay activists will be giddy, they are only setting themselves up for future disappointment. Given the make-up of the Ninth Circuit, it may sustain his opponent, only to have their decision struck eventually down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Another ride on the California gay marriage roller coaster, jubilation following a judicial ruling, disappointment and bitterness when it’s overturned.
Should Walker uphold Prop 8, watch for gay activists to demonize him as some kind of Anti-Christ.
That said, his verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, the gay couples seeking to overturn the constitutional provision, would be a huge boon to Republicans in the Golden State.
A Republican won’t gain any votes by supporting the ruling. (So doctrinaire are those for whom the issue is their primary concern that they’d never support a Republican no matter how broad-mind he or she was.) But, opposition to the ruling could help Republicans make inroads into certain segments of the Democratic base when some Democrats who supported Prop 8 see a Republicans criticizing a court which overturned by fiat an issue they passed with their ballots, they might reconsider their partisan affiliation.
No matter how Republicans react, the gung-ho pro-gay marriage activists are going to vote Democrat anyway. Those who support gay marriage, but for whom it is only one issue among many, might count opposition to a ruling (overturning Prop 8) as a strike against a candidate, but not a fatal blow.
Should the court rule in favor of the plaintiffs (and against Prop 8), Whitman will support the state’s appeal of the ruling while her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown will argue against it. During the campaign, that former Governor’s going to have a tough time explaining why he favors defying the voters of the state he wants to govern. (He’ll win the gay vote, but he would have won that anyway.) Not just that, it’ll make social conservatives ever more likely to come out and vote for Whitman.
Today’s ruling may bring joy to gay activists, but it will prove a huge headache for their preferred political party.
All that said, I believe Prop 8 should be overturned, but by the voters, not the courts.