Lawyer Says Prop. 8 Case Should be Helped by Federal Ruling - NBC Bay Area

Lawyer Says Prop. 8 Case Should be Helped by Federal Ruling



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    A lawyer for two couples challenging California's gay marriage ban  told a federal judge in San Francisco Friday that two rulings by another U.S.  judge in Boston Thursday provide "compelling support" for their case.

    Attorney Theodore Olson made the argument in a letter to U.S.  District Judge Vaughn Walker.

    Walker is presiding over a nonjury trial in which two gay and  lesbian couples claim Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on  same-sex marriage, violates their federal constitutional rights.

    Walker conducted the trial in January, heard closing arguments  last month, and is currently considering a decision. He has not indicated  when he will rule.

    Olson wrote in the letter that U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro of  Boston "considered and rejected many of the same irrational justifications  asserted by proponents in defense of Proposition 8."

    The rulings show that "none of the unfounded rationales asserted  by proponents in justification of Proposition 8 can sustain this  discriminatory law," Olson argued.

    Tauro's decisions struck down a provision of the 1996 federal  Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex married  couples.

    He ruled that the law violated legally married gay and lesbian  couples' constitutional right to equal treatment. Massachusetts is one of  five states that allow same-sex marriage.

    A spokeswoman for the proponents of Proposition 8 and their  campaign committee,, was not immediately available for  comment on Olson's letter.

    Their lawyers have argued that state voters had a rational basis  for believing that heterosexual marriage promotes "naturally procreative  relationships between men and women to provide for the nurture and upbringing  of the next generation."

    Proposition 8 attorney Charles Cooper argued at the close of the  trial that the purpose of marriage is procreation and said that definition is  "fundamental to the very existence and survival of the human race."

    The trial has been the nation's first federal trial on a challenge  under the U.S. Constitution to a state law banning gay and lesbian marriage.