Cleric on Prop. 8 Ruling: Same-sex Couples Still Have a Long Way to Go

Amidst the celebration over Wednesday's overturn of California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriages, one gay cleric has said that same-sex couples still have a long way to go.

"Today's decision, wonderful as it is, will be appealed to higher courts. So we all still face an intolerable delay and further obstacles to implement inclusive values that are core to our understanding of what it means to be human and beloved by God," the Rev. Albert Ogle of Integrity, a gay caucus in the Episcopal Church, said in a statement released yesterday.

"We cannot rely on the courts alone to ensure marriage equality becomes a reality," he added. "Inspired by this decision, the day-to-day work of 'coming out' and pressing for full inclusion and equality in the 'Court of public opinion and experience' must go on so we [can] raise these encouraging percentage points even more."

Ogle, who is also a board member of the California Council of Churches, noted that such leg work is "difficult and time consuming" and that commitment is key to achieving "ultimate victory."

"These important conversations need to deepen, not end and today's inspiring decision should not create a false sense of security that our work is over," he said.

"This has been a tough road and the journey to equality is not over yet."

Ogle's remarks come following yesterday's landmark decision from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker who ruled that Proposition 8 is a violation of the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment.

"The minimal evidentiary presentation made by proponents does not meet the heavy burden of production necessary to show that Proposition 8 is narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest," Walker wrote. "Proposition 8 cannot, therefore, withstand strict scrutiny."

Walker also ruled against claims that allowing same-sex marriages would violate Prop. 8 supporters' first amendment rights, and called the fact that a majority of California voters passed the law in 2008 "irrelevant, as 'fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.'"

Meanwhile, a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that Proposition 8 wouldn't hold up in an election if it were voted on today.

The D.C.-based group's July survey showed that only 45 percent of Californians would support Prop. 8 if it were introduced today, as opposed to 52 percent who voted for the law in 2008.

The survey also showed that only one-in-five Californians believe the passage of Prop. 8 was good for the state, and one-in-four say their views on rights for gay and lesbian people has become more supportive over the last five years.

Along with legal issues, Walker's 136-page ruling also addressed the religious sentiments surrounding the case, as the judge declared in capital letters that, "A PRIVATE MORAL VIEW THAT SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE INFERIOR TO OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES IS NOT A PROPER BASIS FOR LEGISLATION."

"California's obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to 'mandate [its] own moral code,'" he added.

Furthermore, Walker states that religious leaders may, "determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law."

For Ogle, religious groups have been the main obstacle in preventing gay couples from receiving equal rights, as he noted: "Were it not for religious organizations pouring millions of dollars into the Proposition 8 campaign, I believe we would continue to have marriage equality in CA."

"At some point, as a religious community, we will all find a way to publically apologize to the LGBT community for the lies, misinformation and in some cases, the illegal activity that characterized part of this historic struggle for justice and truth," Ogle said.

"As people of faith, we pray that the witness of our relationships will continue to change hearts and minds and to finally heal the wounds that have demonized us and divided us on the issue of marriage equality."

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