A federal judge in San Francisco refused Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker keeps the lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples on track for a trial on federal constitutional issues in January.
Walker turned down a bid by supporters of Proposition 8 for dismissal of the case in a summary judgment without a trial. He said after a two-hour hearing that the case contains a number of issues that can be decided only after evidence is presented at a trial.
Walker said, "These are issues for trial. The presentation of evidence, I believe, is essential to these issues."
The disputes include whether the U.S. Constitution gives same-sex couples a fundamental right to marry and whether Proposition 8 was enacted by the voters last November with discriminatory intent. A second key issue is what standard should be used to judge the constitutionality of Proposition 8.
The two couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank, filed their federal lawsuit in May, four days before the California Supreme Court ruled that voters had the power to amend the state Constitution through Proposition 8.
Their lawyers include former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson of Washington, D.C., and David Boies of Armonk, N.Y., who argued on opposite sides of the Bush v. Gore case that decided the 2000 presidential election. The lawsuit claims Proposition 8 violates their federal constitutional rights to due process and equal treatment.
Walker's future decision in that trial is considered certain to be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court.