Friday, August 27, 2010

Traditional Hetero Family Values? - Ear-Biter Gets Prison Time

from the 1409 News Blog - Bradford, PA:

A Bradford woman has been sentenced to state prison for biting off her boyfriend's ear during a domestic dispute.

27-year-old Erin Moore will spend 19½ to 51 months in state prison for the incident that happened in May at Kiwanis Court.

District Attorney Ray Learn says the stiff sentence was prompted by Moore's history, which includes an incident when she attacked an ex-boyfriend with a baseball bat.

Learn also says a child was present when she bit off her Roger Kline’s ear.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Marriage Equality, The Public Has Reached A Turning Point

Over Time, a Gay Marriage Groundswell
(Even in Pennsylvania!)

from The New York Times:

Gay marriage is not going away as a highly emotional, contested issue. Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage, has seen to that, as it winds its way through the federal courts.

But perhaps the public has reached a turning point.

A CNN poll this month found that a narrow majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage — the first poll to find majority support. Other poll results did not go that far, but still, on average, showed that support for gay marriage had risen to 45 percent or more (with the rest either opposed or undecided).

That’s a big change from 1996, when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. At that time, only 25 percent of Americans said that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry, according to an average of national polls.

The more important turning points in public opinion, however, may be occurring at the state level, especially if states continue to control who can get married.

According to our research, as recently as 2004, same-sex marriage did not have majority support in any state. By 2008, three states had crossed the 50 percent line. *

Today, 17 states are over that line (more if you consider the CNN estimate correct that just over 50 percent of the country supports gay marriage).

In 2008, the year Proposition 8 was approved, just under half of Californians supported same-sex marriage,. Today, according to polls, more than half do. A similar shift has occurred in Maine, where same-sex marriage legislation was repealed by ballot measure in 2009.

In both New York and New Jersey, where state legislatures in the past have defeated proposals to allow same-sex marriage, a majority now support it.

And support for same-sex marriage has increased in all states, even in relatively conservative places like Wyoming and Kentucky. Only Utah is still below where national support stood in 1996.

Among the five states that currently allow same-sex marriage, Iowa is the outlier. It is the only one of those states where support falls below half, at 44 percent.

This trend will continue. Nationally, a majority of people under age 30 support same-sex marriage. And this is not because of overwhelming majorities found in more liberal states that skew the national picture: our research shows that a majority of young people in almost every state support it. As new voters come of age, and as their older counterparts exit the voting pool, it’s likely that support will increase, pushing more states over the halfway mark.

By ANDREW GELMAN, JEFFREY LAX and JUSTIN PHILLIPS, professors of political science at Columbia University.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Proposition 8 Dispatch From the Culture Wars Front

By Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson, with introduction by Bill Lichtenstein, for The Huffington Post:

The US District Court decision on August 4, overturning California's Proposition 8 and its ban on same sex marriages was a watershed moment for proponents of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans.

Within hours of the landmark decision, pundits ranging from MSNBC's liberal Rachel Maddow to Fox's ultra-right wing Glenn Beck, began postulating that the ruling signaled a new "post-homophobic" era in America.

Maddow, who among news anchors may well be America's most trusted lesbian, led her show for the two nights after the decision with celebratory coverage of the ruling. She went so far as to taunt GOP leaders for being uncharacteristically quiet during the 24 hours after the US District Court decision.

Speaking presumably to Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and John Boehner, among others, Maddow asked at the top of her August 5 program, "Where were the outraged Republicans? Where are you? You guys used to be so good at this."

At the same time, Glenn Beck, who is to liberal causes what "Mikey" was to breakfast foods in the 1970s Life cereal ads ("he hates everything"), turned heads by telling Fox's Bill O'Reilly that "I don't think marriage, that the government actually has anything to do with . . . [what] is a religious right," and then added a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"

In the wake of the decision, both sides held their breath as Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker gave opponents of the ruling six days to appeal it. On August 16, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals left in place Prop 8 and its same sex marriage ban in California, as the case winds its way through its appeal process toward the Supreme Court, where it may ultimately be decided. Depsite forcing Golden State gay and lesbian couples to put their nuptial plans on hold, this delay has one possible plus for same sex marriage proponents.

Loyola Law School professor Richard Hasen told the LA Times , that "If this case takes another year to get to the U.S. Supreme Court, there could be more states that adopt same-sex marriage and more judicial opinions that reach that conclusion."

In fact, despite the dramatic victory in the federal court, the battle over same sex marriages in the US continues to rage at the state and local levels.

Streak of "31 Straight Victories" Brought to an End

Over the past decade, gay marriage opponents have racked up an impressive winning streak of 31 straight victories against no defeats when the issue of same sex marriages has been on the ballot in state elections. Loss number 31 was in Maine, on November 3, 2009, when voters repealed a law that had allowed gay unions. The 31-0 streak was brought to an abrupt end by Judge Walker's Prop 8 decision.

As recent events have been developing in San Francisco, filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson have been traveling the country with their feature documentary film, Out in the Silence. The film captures the remarkable chain of events starting with the announcement of their wedding, which ignited a firestorm of controversy in the small Pennsylvania hometown Wilson left long ago.

The documentary tells the story of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights in rural America, and premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, was broadcast on PBS stations across the country, and has been shown at over 400 community and school screenings accompanied by public discussions.

Currently, Dean, who has worked for the past three decades at the National Institutes of Health, and received international attention after the journal "Science" published his research in 1993 that he had identified a "gay gene," and Joe, a human rights activist and native of Oil City, Pennsylvania, where the documentary takes place, are traveling with the film through all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, a state that prohibits same sex marriage.

The following is Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson's "dispatch from the front" regarding the latest battle in America's 2010 culture wars:

Plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier at federal courthouse.

"The images of the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case standing on the steps of the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco during the trial, were typical of the now standard media portrayal of gay America: out, proud, comfortably middle class, living in a big city or suburb.

But there is another side to gay America that is rarely seen. It takes place in conservative, often deeply religious small towns and rural communities where those who are found, or even perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, strive to fit in rather than to stand out. For these people coming out means risking their families, friends, jobs and livelihoods, their safety and at times even their very lives.

Our documentary film, Out in the Silence focuses on the harrowing, ultimately successful battle waged by a 16 year-old gay student and his mother against recalcitrant school authorities when the teen was brutally gay bashed for courageously coming out at his rural high school.

Filmmakers Hamer (L) and Wilson (R) in Oil City, Pennsylvania

We've reached half of our goal of screening the film in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, and most of the events have been greeted with enthusiasm. But in Coudersport, a town of 2,650 people along the northern border of the state, we received an email from Keturah Cappadonia, a town librarian just two days before the scheduled screening informing us that the event would have to be canceled. The reason, as the Harrisburg Patriot-News later reported, was that 'after several hours of people pointing their fingers in her face and telling her she was going to hell, Keturah Cappadonia cracked' and was reduced to tears by the experience.

The controversy resulted from, no surprise, an alliance between fundamentalist Christians and right-wing conservatives. Pastor Pete Tremblay of the Coudersport Free Methodist Church told a local news web site that the film was 'designed to get people to give up their convictions based on the word of God and accept these practices as equivalent to God's design for human sexuality. It is propaganda.'

Pastor Tremblay went on to request that people 'call the library...and in a Christian manner inform them that this event is not a benefit to our community, and ask that it be canceled.'

He was joined in his condemnation of the film by George Brown, president of the Potter County Tea Party, who said he was upset at having to be 'attacked for our beliefs at a public library we support with our tax money. This is wrong and cannot be tolerated.'

Brown also told the web site that $1.5 million of local taxes was used to support the library (the actual number is $42,000), and went on to say that 'Should this agenda be continued, we may need to ask if the library should be defunded.'Diane Gramley, head of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania

That appeared to be one threat over the line for the library board. Following a quick phone meeting, they unanimously decided that the screening would go ahead as originally planned and issued a public statement for the library patrons:

The mission of any public library is to serve a diverse community with varying opinions about what is and is not objectionable material . . . We believe the library would fail in its mission if it did not provide information about ideas or topics that each of us might find uncomfortable at some level . . . American libraries are the cornerstone of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere.

And so two days later, on the evening of July 28, 2010, a standing room only crowd gathered in Coudersport's public library, made up of mainstream members of the community along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual, transgender and cisgender, young, middle-aged and senior citizens, together with a goodly handful of reporters, all gathered together in a public place and ready to talk about a subject that had divided their community for far too long.

As soon as the film was over, one of the opponents in the room quickly rose and read from a long list of objections to the film, including that 'most homosexuals are very well off.' Another spoke at length of his belief that homosexuality is against 'God's word.'

But then, gradually, slowly and often in tears, the LGBT folks and their family members, friends and allies began to recount their personal experiences.

A teenager described how he had been harassed at school when his classmates discovered his father was gay. 'I didn't understand why my friends turned their backs on me,' he said. 'To accept everyone is the only way to go about living.'

Then the teen's father - a local business owner, Episcopal Vestry member and former Republican Party Chair - spoke of the acceptance he has quietly gained over his 30 years in the town.

Another young man, visibly nervous, publicly announced for the first time that he was proud to be both gay and Christian, even though his church had rejected him. That prompted a local minister to stand and announce that her church was supportive of LGBT people and would serve as a resource for those who wanted a welcoming spiritual home.

When a woman with a small child in her arms offered to make a financial donation to the library to offset any losses due to the screening, she was greeted by a solid burst of applause.

The topic of marriage equality was never even mentioned. But audience members did circulate a sign-up sheet for people who wanted to work with one another and Equality Partners of Western Pennsylvania to try and make Coudersport a more welcoming and tolerant place. By the time the event was over, the majority of the people in the room had signed up.

While it was painful, even frightening to observe the open hostility of the handful of individuals who attempted to stop the meeting from occurring, and then to disrupt the conversation with angry diatribes and personal attacks, people in the community have told us that it was actually useful that it all took place in full light of day because it revealed the seriousness of the problems that LGBT people face, often alone and without any networks of personal or legal support in such an environment.

The other screenings throughout Pennsylvania, which has a law on the books prohibiting same sex marriage, drew good crowds of local LGBT people and allies including educators, social workers and business owners, but only one minister showed up, in Emporium, PA. After watching the movie he took off his white collar and placed it in his shirt pocket. 'Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be associated with the clergy in this area,' he said. 'My religion is about faith, not about hate.'

Visit the official "Out in The Silence" web site at
"Out in the Silence" can be seen On iTunes or purchased on Amazon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"The Film Portrays Oil City In A Very Favorable Light"

OUT IN THE SILENCE, a documentary film about the quest for fairness & equality for LGBT people in small towns & rural communities, just received the most important honor imaginable, recognition from the Oil City Arts Council, an amazing organization and group of people working for change in the very community portrayed in the film.

Our gratitude will be shown at each and every screening as we continue to share news of the great efforts underway in Oil City to help make it, and the surrounding area, more welcoming and inclusive of all who wish to call it home!

Text of Letter:

August 5, 2010

Dear Joe,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Oil City Arts Council, I am sending our deep appreciation to you for the sensitivity and sense of community that you expressed in your film, OUT IN THE SILENCE. We feel that the film portrays Oil City in a very favorable light with regard to the interpersonal relationships and personal concern for human rights displayed by our residents.

We hope that you will feel welcome to visit Oil city often and that every opportunity will be taken to show your film to new audiences.

We send our congratulations on your artistic achievement with OUT IN THE SILENCE and wish you success as you continue your creative endeavors.


Libby Williams
Oil City Arts Council

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"It Is A Threat"

As the facts about the recent OUT IN THE SILENCE screening in Coudersport continue to come out, the controversy that Diane Gramley of the American Family Assoc. of PA and her new-found-friends-in-bigotry, such as the "reporter" at the Cruddy News blog site, are trying to whip up is just making them look like out-of-touch extremists.

The truth hurts.

But what hurts more is hearing about and seeing the pain that such activist-bigotry causes real people in real communities, like beautiful Coudersport.

Fortunately, as this article helps reveal, these real people are getting sick-and-tired of those who misuse religion to support their "family-values" crusades and are starting to speak out, and organize, for change in the silence of rural and small town America.

Screening of Documentary Draws Debate

By Brent Addleman, Editor of The Potter Leader Enterprise

There was little silence following the showing of the documentary film “Out In The Silence” on Wednesday evening at the Coudersport Public Library.

A heated question-and-answer session emanated from the middle of the library that featured plenty of vitriol being thrown around the room in the form of questions of acceptance, deterring discrimination and even attacks on the library in the form of patrons no longer donating to help fund the organization because the film was shown.

About 80 residents attended the showing.

The film documents the struggle of a gay teen in rural Pennsylvania and was shown to a packed house that drew moments of laughter during the movie and moments of tension following.

Coudersport resident Bob Wagner opened the question-and-answer session with statements regarding the standing of gays and lesbians in society.

“I think the lesbians, gays, transsexuals and trans genders are doing quite well in America,” Wagner said. “June 21, USA Today talks about the gay teen girl that couldn’t take her girlfriend to the prom. She was honored in the White House by Barack Obama. The week before you were honored in New York with the annual gay parade endorsed by the mayor, and, of course, you have one in San Francisco endorsed by the mayor. You have the highest per capita income of any group in America. I don’t think you’re doing too bad. Are you ever going to be happy?”

While Wagner stated what he feels is a good standing of gays and lesbians in the community, he also made it clear he disagreed with their lifestyle choice.

“There’s quite a gay community in Coudersport and I think they are doing quite well,” Wagner said. “In spite of my statements here, I think you will find most of them I am on speaking terms with even though I disagree with their beliefs.”

Drawing the ire of the crowd, Wagner gave one final comment regarding his own plans for a forum.

“I am renting the Coudersport Public Library and I will be speaking and giving some more insight to the other side of the agenda,” Wagner said.

According to Wagner, everyone is invited to attend the event.

Joe Wilson, co-director and co-producer of the film, made a valiant attempt to calm what was quickly becoming a volatile environment.

“There seem to be some who do not want an open, public forum,” Wilson said. “That is what we are trying to deal with. We are going to try to be patient. We’re going to try to be respectful and make sure that everybody that wants to join in this conversation has the opportunity to do so.”

A woman from the crowd stated she felt what the library and Wilson and his partner in the film, Dean Hamer, have done in purveying a clear message is a good thing, inciting clapping from the capacity crowd.

“The film speaks to the issues many young people, in particular, experience in our school systems,” Wilson said. “The big question is how are the schools, parents, community equipped to address the situation. I don’t know what the situation is here in Potter County.”

Marty Montgomery, a pastor from the First Baptist Church of Roulette, then questioned Wilson and Hamer about the film and their ideals.

“I understand you folks want to improve the dialog between the gay and lesbian community and those who are not – at least I assume you do,” Montgomery said. “What I saw was what I consider gunpowder-type rhetoric. You said the library and yourselves were attacked and threatened. Would you tell me exactly what [occurred?]”

Wilson responded, “We read there were reports people were threatening to have the library de-funded.”

Montgomery then questioned Wilson as to the library losing funding being a threat to which Wilson gave a one-word answer, “Yes.”

On the issue of discrimination happening in schools and being a problem in Coudersport, Jessica Bonczar was quick to offer her own life experiences growing up in town.

“I’ve grown up here and I went to high school with several people that were gay,” Jessica Bonczar said. “I would like to say [discrimination] is an issue here. While I might not be gay, I watched some of my closest friends be bullied, harassed, threatened, treated like garbage. It is an issue here. It is. It is an issue everywhere. It is a human rights issue. This sort of thing is about intellectual freedom. People should be able to come together and have this sort of forum and discussion in a very civil manner. It is an issue here.”

Bonczar also addressed the library funding issue that was raised prior to the showing of the film.

“I have raised money for this library actively for years now, and it is a threat to have it de-funded,” Jessica Bonczar said. “We are struggling to stay afloat here. It is a threat.”

For Jaimi Bonczar, the film could be the starting point of understanding what gays and lesbians sometimes go through in small towns and teaching tolerance and acceptance.

“I went to high school here probably, well, 10 years ago,” Jaimi Bonczar said. “I also went to school with people who were harassed. This is a public forum. We all chose to be here. I think this could be a great place to start talking about this, how we can better support our own community. Be open-minded, be friendly to everybody. Our small town is just as important to me as the rest of the people. In our community, we care about each other – all of us, not just some of us. I really appreciate what you’ve done.”

Montgomery then interjected his own beliefs that homosexuality is the rejection of God’s word.

“In order for me to concede that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable, then I have to decide that God’s word must be rejected,” Montgomery said. “That is the decision. I am referring to the Bible. Nobody is going to be able to take the Bible and say homosexuality is sin – you just can’t do that. All you can do is reject it or say, ‘Well I don’t take it literally.’ This is what I am asking. Is it OK with you, if I continue to believe God?”

Hamer fully supported Montgomery’s statement.

“Yes, absolutely, and if you do not want to be gay yourself and you do not believe in homosexuality for yourself or for people at your church, that is absolutely fine,” Hamer said.

Wilson then interjected that during the showing of the film storms that had passed through the area produced a rainbow.

Rev. Evon McJunkin, who has served in the area for 23 years at the First United Presbyterian Church, offered support to those seeking literature on homosexuality and Christianity.

“If there are folks that would like resources in support of homosexuality, I have them for you. I believe that God loves and accepts gays and there is evidence of scripture of that,” McJunkin said.

For Don Caskey of Austin, the plight of being homosexual in a small town is one that caused those he called friends to turn their back when they learned of his lifestyle choice.

“I grew up in Austin and I grew up as a gay man,” Caskey said. “I can’t believe I just said that out loud because there was a time in my life that was the worst thing I could have ever said.

“I told one other person that I was gay, and like what happens in small towns it went through a wildfire throughout the town. I grew up very active in the Methodist church there. I have lots of friends. I was very active in that church. A lot of people supported me, but the people that considered themselves the most religious wrote me horrible letters.

“ The people who I considered some of my closest friends who were very active in that church showed their love for me by not coming to the funeral when my parents died, by not talking to me for 25 years simply for the fact I am gay. I stand before you saying you can believe whatever you want, but you are not showing your love, the love of Christ, unless you are reaching out to everyone – and that includes those who believe differently from you. I would encourage everybody to reach out and love everyone.”

For Kevin Eukon of Coudersport, he wouldn’t change his choice of growing up and living here.

“I feel very fortunate that I come from a town like Coudersport,” Eukon said. “I grew up here and came out of the closet in 1982, 1983. There have been moments of discrimination in my life, but one thing I have noticed about this town that makes it such a unique, wonderful place to live is when things started to get out of hand the town fathers always pressed them down.

“ I don’t see the discrimination here. There are pockets of it here and there are pockets of it anywhere. I think one thing Coudersport has is a decent community full of decent people and when the discrimination or the nastiness gets too out of hand there has always been a town father that has helped me through it or helped take care of it or addressed the situation. I think we are very fortunate to live in a town like Coudersport.”

For one local youth, being the son of gay parents was a trying experience, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world.

“When I was a kid up until sixth grade everything was cool and my parents were just my parents,” the boy said. “At the end of the sixth grade, we got the word ‘gay.’ Then my parents became ‘gay’ parents and my friends stopped being my friends. They call me gay. I didn’t understand why my friends turned their backs on me. But, there is nothing I can do to change my parents. They are gonna be gay and I have to let them be gay. I’m not gonna be like, ‘Dad, I hate you.’ I’m not going to change them. To accept everyone is the only way to go about living. You can point the finger all you want, but it isn’t going to get you anywhere in the end.”

Bring It On - We Are Not Afraid

This analysis of the Prop. Hate campaign could just as easily apply to the decade-long effort of Venango County-based American Family Assoc. of PA and radio station WAWN to demean, marginzalize and exclude LGBT people from full and equal participation in society.

But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: when rational people see and hear the lies of those who misuse religion to support bigotry and discrimination, public opinion begins to swing toward justice.

So Diane and Jane, come on out into the full light of day. We're looking forward to working with you to finally bring an end to the charade.

Dear Proposition 8 supporters - You lost because you lied

by: Alvin McEwen on Pam's House Blend
Thu Aug 05, 2010

Dear supporters of Proposition 8,

Please do not take my words as gloating but rather a clear and concise analysis of why you may be feeling dejected now over the overturning of Proposition 8.

In 2008, when you won, many of you stood with your arms raised in defiance of the bitter tears you caused in the lgbt community.

What a difference two years makes indeed.

But let me explain to you why you lost today. It’s not complicated, but rather simple.

Your side lost because you lied.

Oh I know that folks on your side will whine about “activist judges who make laws rather than interpret them,” but let’s be real here.

Your entire narrative has been a lie from the beginning.

Folks on your side, such as Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and the rest of the pseudo defenders of morality will probably whine about how you all have been unfairly labeled as “bigots.” And I am sure that they will point out that every time there has been a public vote on marriage equality, the lgbt community has always lost.

But they will conveniently omit how these victories were attained. You won’t hear about how they invoked images of gay boogeymen molesting children in false ads nor will they admit to telling lies about children supposedly being taught about gay sex.
Alvin McEwen :: Dear Proposition 8 supporters - You lost because you lied
You won’t hear them admit to exploiting people’s unconscious fears and ignorance of the lgbt community in order to spin outrageous scenarios of what could happen should lgbts be allowed to marry.

And don’t be surprised by this. Those like Gallagher will never admit to the depths they stooped to win not only in California but other places like Maine.

But there is a reason why this country has checks and balances. And there is a reason why people can’t arbitrarily vote on the rights of others without having to defend this vote in the logical arena of courts, where you can’t invoke panic by proverbially yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

In the courts, you must defend your position. And in the long run, you couldn’t. Or rather many of you wouldn’t. Again, the specters of gay bogeymen were invoked as your leaders spun false images of avenging hordes for their reluctance to be questioned in the courts about the unprovoked lies they said in pulpits, in speeches, and on commercials.

This time, it didn’t work. The court saw through the phony claims and realized something, which I hope that many of you now do - you have no logical reason to either deny us the right to love or to deny us the ability to protect the ones whom we love.

But please don’t think that even though we are celebrating, the lgbt community is naive to think that this ends the struggle for marriage equality.

We know this is just the beginning of a long fight to attain something that should have been ours from the beginning.

But that’s okay.

We are a community who learn from our past mistakes. At times we lose, but we learn to adapt and we eventually win.

So bring it on. We are not afraid.

"Fundamental Rights May Not Be Submitted To A Vote"

Marriage Is a Constitutional Right

New York Times Editorial - Aug. 4, 2010

Until Wednesday, the thousands of same-sex couples who have married did so because a state judge or Legislature allowed them to. The nation’s most fundamental guarantees of freedom, set out in the Constitution, were not part of the equation. That has changed with the historic decision by a federal judge in California, Vaughn Walker, that said his state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the 14th Amendment’s rights to equal protection and due process of law.

The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults.

As the case heads toward appeals at the circuit level and probably the Supreme Court, Judge Walker’s opinion will provide a firm legal foundation that will be difficult for appellate judges to assail.

The case was brought by two gay couples who said California’s Proposition 8, which passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, discriminated against them by prohibiting same-sex marriage and relegating them to domestic partnerships. The judge easily dismissed the idea that discrimination is permissible if a majority of voters approve it; the referendum’s outcome was “irrelevant,” he said, quoting a 1943 case, because “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote.”

He then dismantled, brick by crumbling brick, the weak case made by supporters of Proposition 8 and laid out the facts presented in testimony. The two witnesses called by the supporters (the state having bowed out of the case) had no credibility, he said, and presented no evidence that same-sex marriage harmed society or the institution of marriage.

Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in their ability to form successful marital unions and raise children, he said. Though procreation is not a necessary goal of marriage, children of same-sex couples will benefit from the stability provided by marriage, as will the state and society. Domestic partnerships confer a second-class status. The discrimination inherent in that second-class status is harmful to gay men and lesbians. These findings of fact will be highly significant as the case winds its way through years of appeals.

One of Judge Walker’s strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades. All marriages are now unions of equals, he wrote, and there is no reason to restrict that equality to straight couples. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage “exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage,” he wrote. “That time has passed.”

To justify the proposition’s inherent discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, he wrote, there would have to be a compelling state interest in banning same-sex marriage. But no rational basis for discrimination was presented at the two-and-a-half-week trial in January, he said. The real reason for Proposition 8, he wrote, is a moral view “that there is something wrong with same-sex couples,” and that is not a permissible reason for legislation.

“Moral disapproval alone,” he wrote, in words that could someday help change history, “is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.”

The ideological odd couple who led the case — Ted Olson and David Boies, who fought against each other in the Supreme Court battle over the 2000 election — were criticized by some supporters of same-sex marriage for moving too quickly to the federal courts. Certainly, there is no guarantee that the current Supreme Court would uphold Judge Walker’s ruling. But there are times when legal opinions help lead public opinions.

Just as they did for racial equality in previous decades, the moment has arrived for the federal courts to bestow full equality to millions of gay men and lesbians.