SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. judge weighing the constitutionality of gay marriage in a San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday will ask how weddings between gays and lesbians could undermine marriage between men and women.
The case to overturn California's ban on gay marriage, approved by voters in 2008, is based on the argument that it denies equal rights to same-sex couples. But it may turn on whether voters had a legitimate, reasonable reason for their decision or were motivated by discrimination.
Closing arguments will be held on Wednesday in the case, which began on Jan. 11, and is likely to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker set the agenda for closing arguments with a long list of questions including whether there was a good reason, or rational basis, to maintain marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples.
"Voters' unfounded and discriminatory stereotypes are not a substitute for proof that a law actually furthers a legitimate state interest," wrote gay rights lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, who faced off in the 2000 Supreme Court decision that put George Bush in the White House.
They argue that same-sex couples who marry grow healthier and wealthier, their children are better of, and the state benefits from the expanded definition of marriage.
Opposite-sex marriage are not affected at all and the California constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman -- similar to provisions in the vast majority of U.S. states -- is based in moral indignation and hate, they conclude.
Charles Cooper, the chief lawyer defending the ban known as Prop 8, argues that gay marriage would, or at least reasonably could, weaken the institution of marriage by robbing it of "special encouragement" to stay together and raise children.
"These changes are likely to reduce the willingness of biological parents, especially fathers, to make the commitments and sacrifices necessary to marry, stay married, and play an active role in raising their children," Cooper wrote.
A ruling in the case is expected within weeks.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson)
Trending On Reuters
Malaysian police believe at least two of the jungle camps where they have found nearly 140 graves of suspected human trafficking victims were abandoned in the last two to three weeks, around the time that Thailand launched a crackdown on people smugglers. Full Article
- Islamic State faces battle in Iraq, U.S. reassures Abadi
- Japan to join U.S., Australia war games amid growing China tensions
- IT chief at Bangladesh Coca-Cola unit arrested as Islamic State suspect
- Unpopular but defiant, Myanmar ruling party unfazed about poll prospects
- Southeast Asia maritime build-up accelerates, raising risks in disputed seas