Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Wondering what politicians and groups on both sides of the gay marriage debate have to say about today's Proposition 8 decision?

We've posted a collection of responses after the jump. We will update the list as more responses roll in, so be sure to check back.

Rick Jacobs, Courage Campaign founder and chairman:

This ruling is an historic milestone for millions of loving families, for all who have fought to realize the dream of equality under the law, and for our nation as a whole. While today concludes the first step in a legal process that could take up to two years, Judge Walker's ruling is a landmark victory in America's centuries long war against discrimination, and the result of months of extraordinary work by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, and courageous plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.

History has already taught us that the biggest challenge for the cause of equality exists not just in courtrooms, but in the hearts and minds of the American people. That's why the public must hear the testimony presented in Judge Walker's courtroom and that of the millions of loving LGBT families who have come to understand the destructive power of discrimination first-hand. It is clear that when presented with the truth about the millions of families who will be impacted by this decision, most Americans do not support the debunked myths and toxic rhetoric spewed by intolerant fringe groups like the National Organization for Marriage.

Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry campaign:

Today's federal ruling strikes down a cruel and unfair constitutional amendment that should never have become law and affirms that the freedom to marry belongs to every American. As the first court to strike down race restrictions on marriage said in 1948, "the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice." There is no gay exception in the Constitution to personal choice and the right to marry, and there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

Judge Walker's decision will be appealed and litigation will continue, but what we witnessed in the clear light of his courtroom cannot be erased. The witnesses, evidence, and arguments all demonstrated what we've long known: exclusion from marriage harms committed same-sex couples and their families, while helping no one, and the unjustified and unfair denial of marriage to same-sex couples violates the United States Constitution. The judge's ruling reflects the growing consensus in courtrooms and legislatures across the country, and around the world, that there is simply no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez:

Judge Walker's thoughtful, eloquent decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is a powerful validation of our nation's tradition of full equality in the eyes of the law. This is a decision which reaffirms the principles and ideals enshrined in our Constitution, and only serves to underscore the fact that recognition of full equality for LGBT Americans is simply a matter of time.

I also want to express my congratulations to the legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson, as well as Therese Stewart and Dennis Herrera representing the City and County of San Francisco for their brilliant, inspiring and historic arguments in this case. They have won a major victory on behalf of our Constitution and LGBT Americans everywhere.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Judge Walker had the great responsibility of deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of the United States. He heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings. We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision.

For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.

Today's decision is by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people.

Attorney General Jerry Brown:

In striking down Proposition 8, Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it: Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

By declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Judge Walker reaffirmed the highest ideals of our republic. For far too long, our nation has unfairly denied fundamental rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation - clearly and sadly violating the equal protection doctrine in our state and federal Constitutions.

Today's decision is a giant leap forward in healing the wounds of government-sanctioned discrimination. State by state, we are finally recognizing and honoring all loving relationships and all families with the rights, privileges, and joys of marriage. I look forward to again officiating at weddings for all couples who wish to marry.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

Today's decision is a landmark victory for California and all caring couples who wish to make lifelong commitments to one another through marriage. Triumphantly we send the resounding message to the world that all people are treated equally under the laws of our nation. This decision not only upholds the constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, but also affirms our fundamental rights as human beings, which for so long have been denied. The decision underscores the respect, dignity and validation which all loving couples deserve.

As we celebrate today's decision, we must never forget how far we have come, or the courageous leaders upon whose shoulders we stand. They had certainly envisioned this day, but did not live to see it. It is through their courageous blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice that we found our victory.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, via Twitter:

The federal court has struck down Prop 8! A major victory for equal rights & for thousands of committed couples, families & friends in CA.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles:

The Constitution says that all Americans are equal under the law, and that our nation has no second-class citizens. Today, Judge Walker reaffirmed this fundamental truth by ruling that Prop 8's discriminatory language has no place in our laws. Attaining marriage equality is so important, but the cause is about even more -- it's about affirming the dignity and humanity of each of us, in all facets of our lives.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco:

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has issued a powerful, thoughtful, and well-reasoned decision. In overturning Proposition 8, this Court fulfilled its legacy as a champion for equality. The Court recognized that it is unconstitutional to put a minority's rights up for a popular vote. Today's decision reaffirmed our U.S. Constitution's promise of equality for all.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris:

Today's historic decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was a monumental step forward in the fight for equality.

From the moment Attorney General Jerry Brown issued his analysis that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, I have proudly concurred with him. That position has been confirmed by Federal Judge Walker's opinion today and stands in a proud line of jurisprudence reflected so boldly in 1948 when California's Supreme Court ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion finally reached in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

Attorney General Brown, Judge Walker, and I have all sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, if I am given the privilege to serve as California's next Attorney General, I will not defend the anti-gay Proposition 8 in Federal court. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my opponent in the California Attorney General's race, who promises to put the full weight of the state of California behind a defense of this discriminatory amendment.

I pledge my support as this fight continues to another court and if necessary, the Supreme Court. I will continue to advocate for the defeat of Prop 8, whether we win that battle in the courts or at the ballot box. We may well face a lengthy battle on this issue but, as Dr. King said in 1967, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."

Michael B. Keegan, president of People For the American Way:

This is a historic day for California, and for our country. Proposition 8 took away the freedom of committed couples to make what is one of the most important decisions in any person's life -- to make a lifelong promise of caring, responsibility, love, and protection for another individual. Now, like the thousands of other California couples who have been barred from marrying who they choose, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier can have security of knowing they can receive legal protections for their family, visit each other's hospital rooms when they are ill, and provide for each other in old age.

Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa:

I am thrilled to see this ruling overturn ballot box bigotry. Like all forms of discrimination, Proposition 8 must be overturned and put behind us as a shameful part of our state's history. The sooner we embrace equality, the better off we will be!

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring:

The California Republican Party is firm in its support of traditional marriage and looks forward to the matter being resolved in a higher court.

Leonard M. Lanzi, Log Cabin Republicans state chairman:

Today, all Californians have had their rights strengthened through the court's decision. As Republicans, we are heartened that plaintiff's attorney Ted Olson and David Boies used core conservative principles of privacy, liberty and freedom to convince the court that Prop 8 should be overturned. While we anticipate this decision to appealed to the highest court in the land, Log Cabin Republicans will continue our work to change hearts and minds in all communities across the California.

Jess Durfee, Southern California chair of LGBT Caucus, California Democratic Party:

Today's ruling is a victory for equality and an affirmation for all Californians who believe that our state must never be party to keeping committed, loving couples apart. This is but the latest victory in a long march toward full equality that has yet to be realized for the majority of LGBT couples and families in the United States. California Democrats will continue to fight on the side of basic fairness and equality under law until the right to marry is extended to all couples.

Geoff Kors, executive director for Equality California:

We are thrilled with today's ruling, which affirms that the protections enshrined in our U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans and that our dream of equality and freedom deserves protection. Judge Walker has preserved our democracy by ruling that a majority cannot deny a minority group of fundamental freedoms. This is as much a victory for the soul of our nation as it is for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who will be directly impacted.

Randy Thomasson, president of

As the ringleader of an embarrassing courtroom circus, Judge Walker's opinion on Prop. 8 will be based either on his homosexual-agenda lifestyle or on how he would like to be otherwise remembered, but his ruling won't be founded on the written words or original intent of the United States Constitution. If the judge respected the U.S. Constitution, he wouldn't have accepted this case or called an unprecedented 'trial' or asked a raft of courtroom questions that were based on subjective feelings, and not based on the actual Constitution.

Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento:

I applaud Judge Vaughn Walker's decision today declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. His conclusion that there is no rational basis for our government to discriminate against gays and lesbians by denying them a marriage license rests on the same reasoning applied more than 40 years ago when the Supreme Court struck down laws barring interracial marriage.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

Today's ruling is a great victory for justice and equality. The court decision affirms what I strongly believe: there is no rational basis for discriminating against and denying marriage equality to gays and lesbians. Today's victory is not the end of this struggle for equality. There will be more legal appeals and continued public debate. But I believe Judge Walker's ruling will long be remembered as the decision that made marriage equality possible for all Americans.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera:

Today's ruling strikes a resonant chord against discrimination that should not only withstand appeal, but change hearts and minds. I'm extremely grateful to Judge Walker for a thorough and well reasoned decision that powerfully affirms the U.S. Constitution's promise of equal protection.

Robert Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries:

The judge's contempt for the rule of law and a constitutionally guaranteed self-governing republic cannot be overemphasized. With courts turning traditional values into a form of "hate" actionable under the law, we are seeing the criminalization of not only Christianity but of the foundational values of civilization itself. As the case heads to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the Supreme Court, Americans need to pray that the judges diligently seek wisdom before ruling. And we urge our constituents to encourage public officials to support ways to stop the judicial wrecking ball from further damaging God's oldest human institution - marriage.

Brian Raum, Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel:

In America, we should respect and uphold the right of a free people to make policy choices through the democratic process -- especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the foundation of the country and beyond. Imagine what would happen if every state constitutional amendment could be eliminated by small groups of wealthy activists who malign the intent of the people. It would no longer be America, but a tyranny of elitists.

Andrew Pugno, Proposition 8 co-author and Assembly candidate:

What's at stake here is bigger than California. Americans in numerous states have affirmed -- and should be allowed to continue to affirm -- a natural and historic public policy position like this. We are prepared to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Christopher Stoll, senior staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

I think this has the potential to be a game changer. The depth and the reasons in the judge's ruling, and the involvement of Ted Olson and David Boies, have taken this to a whole new level. I do think it will have an impact on the public mindset.

Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego:

I applaud Judge Walker's ruling on behalf of equality today for all loving and committed couples in California. These men and women deserve the right to marry and this decision reinforces that our society is a fair and just place. I hope the community celebrates today's victory and remains vigilant in the pursuit of civil rights for all Californians.

Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles:

What Brown v. Board of Education and Mendez v. Westminster School District represented for students of color, so too, will this decision stand as a beacon of hope and affirmation in the fight for marriage equality rights.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

California is a freer, more just place today. By overturning Proposition 8, Justice Vaughn Walker affirmed a basic American value: we all deserve to be treated fairly under the law, and we all deserve the freedom to marry.

Jo Linder-Crow, executive director, California Psychological Association:

The court's decision "sends a strong and significant message about the harm that can result from discrimination and stigma associated with sexual identity."

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

The beauty of our constitution is that it ensures that all people are treated equally under the law -- even when popular opinion may differ. Judge Walker restored the right for each of us to love whomever we choose and to express that love legally through marriage.


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