U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 136-page opinion effectively overturning California's ban on gay marriage is best read with patriotic Sousa marches playing in the background.
Walker's ruling, released Wednesday, is a stirring reminder of the central component of the American ideal of freedom:
A person or a group may be unpopular, their beliefs or actions widely reviled, their appearance or manner of speech considered offensive by the majority.
But to crack down on such people or groups or deny them the same basic rights and opportunities other Americans enjoy, we need a reason — a good reason, a reason based on evidence, not tradition, conjecture, fear or faith; a reason that trumps the fundamental guarantees of liberty and rises to the level of "compelling government interest."
The arguments against allowing same-sex couples to marry have never met this basic threshold test. They've always been a dog's breakfast of moral condemnation, paranoia, mendacity, misdirection and prejudice…
…In its 55-page "findings of fact" section, Walker's opinion patiently weaves history and scholarship together to neuter every argument put forth at trial by supporters of California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that overturned a state supreme court ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Read more: