Regulation of Marriages May Head to Supreme Court
Despite Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker’s Aug. 4 decision nullifying Proposition 8, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has put a stop to same-sex weddings in California for the time being with a stay order issued August 16th. The stay took effect just before Judge Walker’s ruling was to become active on Wednesday the 18th, a day many same-sex couples had planned to get married on. Now, gay and lesbian couples in California will have to wait at least until the end of the year to get married.
Ninth Circuit judges Sidney Thomas, Edward Levy and Michael Daly Hawkins overruled the decision of Judge Walker and extended the stay until December 6, when three different federal judges will meet to hear a merit appeal sought by Proposition 8 proponents to throw out Walker’s ruling permanently.
The Ninth Circuit judges wrote in their brief, “In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing.” In effect, the judges said that Proposition 8 proponents must explain why they had legal standing to act in the interests of the state, which is not defending Prop. 8.
Gay rights activists were not happy about the new ruling but remained optimistic and noted that the Ninth Circuit court had acted very quickly in the case in scheduling the appeals panel to take up the matter the week of Dec. 6. Whatever the panel decides in December, it is highly likely that the losing side will further appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court.