A Federal judge in California has ruled that voter-approved proposition 8which banned same-sex marriageis unconstitutional and should be struck down.
United States District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled that the ban violates homosexuals rights to equal protection under the law and, as such, violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to gay rights organizations, the decision was welcomed by a range of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Anti-Defamation League and Amnesty International. The latter issued a statement saying that the ruling affirmed that any form of discrimination is unacceptable.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also expressed her satisfaction, stating that Proposition 8 has taken away individual rights and freedoms, and is a stain upon the California Constitution.
On the opposite side of the issue, Catholic bishops and organizations such as Family Research Council have condemned the decision.
According to Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, It is tragic that a Federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage.
He added that No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.
The ruling was a first step in what is expected to be a lengthy battle that commentators believe will be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.