Thursday, August 12, 2010
Same-sex couples across California will have to wait at least one more week before they can get married.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco agreed today to lift a stay he had imposed on his own ruling striking down Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that banned same-sex unions in California. But Walker said the stay will remain in place until Wednesday "solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner."
Walker -- who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and is gay himself -- ruled last week that Proposition 8, approved by California voters in 2008, violated the 14th Amendment that guarantees equal protection to all Americans.
In his 136-page ruling, Walker wrote that the proposition "both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
But he granted a temporary stay on the ruling at the request of Proposition 8 supporters, who said allowing couples to marry pending the appeal would create confusion if Walker's ruling is eventually overturned.
Walker ruled today that he would not impose a permanent stay on his ruling, but he gave the supporters one week to take their case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could still feasibly prevent Walker's ruling from taking effect.
The fight over Proposition 8 is expected to eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In March 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
The approval of the measure led to statewide protests and lawsuits challenging the legality of Proposition 8.
In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 would remain valid.