Washington, D.C.- U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker today overrode the decision of a majority of California voters to define marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman.  House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today criticized the decision as a judicial overreach that undermines democracy and silences the voice of the people.

Ranking Member Smith: “Today’s decision to overturn Proposition 8 defies the will of the people of California and directly contradicts the spirit of democracy that is government by the people and for the people.  In 2008, the citizens of California passed a ballot initiative to amend the California constitution and define marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.  The seven million California voters were not the first in their efforts to protect marriage.  Forty-five states in the U.S. have codified their statutory or constitutional law to affirm the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

“The vast majority of the American people believe that the preservation of marriage between a man and a woman is critical to our success as a nation and in the best interest of American families.  Judge Walker’s ruling places personal political ideology above the right of the people to pass laws.  Throughout this case, Judge Walker failed to conduct himself in an impartial manner, even attempting to illegally broadcast the proceedings despite federal rules prohibiting cameras in the courtroom.  According to the Supreme Court, Judge Walker attempted to change the rule on cameras in the courtroom ‘at the 11th hour to treat this case differently than other trials in the district.’

“What California and states around the nation have done is simply to affirm the definition of marriage that predates our Nation and every other nation and form of government throughout history.  It is not the role of a single, unelected federal judge to redefine the institution of marriage and impose it on American society.  The people alone-through their elected representatives-have that role and responsibility. 

“When Congress returns from recess, I plan to introduce a resolution condemning today’s decision and urging an immediate appeal.  The voters of California are not the only ones who lost today.  This decision defies the voice of all citizens who have sought to define marriage in their States as the union between one man and one woman.  Judge Walker’s actions should be opposed and the decision should be swiftly overturned.