[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a case challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the US District Court for the Northern District of California said that a trial is needed [LA Times report] to determine issues regarding the level of constitutional protection afforded to same-sex couples and the state's motivations behind the ban. Walker rejected the argument that only a rational basis was needed for the amendment, pointing out that the US Supreme Court [official website] does not have a clear level of scrutiny for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Walker also dismissed arguments of tradition and procreation. The trial is set for January.
The lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report], filed in May, challenges Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], which amended the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, on due process and equal protection grounds. The suit was filed by former US solicitor general Ted Olson and prominent litigator David Boies [professional profiles], of Bush v. Gore [opinion] fame, shortly after the California Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that challenges under state law lacked merit. In August, Walker ruled that several advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and Campaign for California Families [advocacy websites], could not intervene in the suit. Proposition 8, approved by voters [JURIST report] in November, was a response to the California Supreme Court's decision last year striking down [JURIST report] a statutory ban on same-sex marriage as violating the equal protection and privacy provisions of the state constitution.