As you have probably heard by now, California’s controversial Proposition 8, which officially defined marriage in our state as an institution “between a man and a woman,” was overturned in federal court last Tuesday. In his ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker concludes:
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.
While I haven’t read enough of the court opinion to form an educated opinion yet, my initial reaction is one of great happiness. For too long have homosexual Americans been treated as second class citizens, their relationships being cast aside as not legitimate enough for marriage. Finally, they will receive the legal equality they are entitled to as human beings.
However, the libertarian reaction to this case has been nowhere near unanimous. While many like myself celebrate the ruling for its outcome of expanding freedom, some have cried foul, claiming that the ruling is the result of judicial activism. Furthermore, some have argued that the ruling only expands the government’s power to regulate marriage, an encroachment upon liberty rather than a victory for it. Being that most libertarians ultimately believe that the state should not be in the marriage business at all, such a mixed reaction is not so surprising.
As I mentioned earlier, I have not done enough the proper research to assert my opinion; I hope to write a piece when I have. However, there are quite a few interesting perspectives out in the libertarian blogosphere that are worth perusing. I suggest checking them out and formulating your own opinion:
- Favorable: “California’s Gay Marriage Ban Lacks a Rational Basis” by Ilya Shapiro
- Favorable: “Victory for Liberty & Equality in California” by Clark Ruper
- Favorable: “California Gay Marriage Law Overturned: What Should Libertarians Think?” by Stephan Kinsella
- Mixed: “California Prop 8 Overturned” by Jim Rose
- Unfavorable: “A Brief Reaction to the Prop 8 California Case” by James Padilioni, Jr.
So, how do you feel about the case? Please feel free to leave a comment about your reaction to the ruling. Also, if you know of any other libertarian perspectives on the case that I may have missed, please notify me via comment, and I’ll be happy to add them to the list.