Ninth Circuit Stays "Gay Marriages" for Now; Schwarzenegger

Appeals court puts Proposition 8 ruling on hold, sets December hearing

By Howard Mintz [email protected]
Updated: 08/16/2010 04:05:36 PM PDT

A federal appeals court today put off any same-sex marriages in California until at least next year.

In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to stay Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s order last week that would have barred the state from enforcing Proposition 8, a development that would have enabled same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses across the state immediately. Walker on Aug. 4 declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and then found there is no longer legal justification to deny same-sex couples the right to marry while his ruling is reviewed on appeal.

The 9th Circuit gave the two sides in the case the next few months to file briefs on Walker’s ruling, and set arguments for the week of Dec. 6, which would push a decision into next year. In the meantime, gay and lesbian couples will likely have to put off hopes of marrying for awhile, as plaintiffs lawyers’ only option left would be to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene — a move most legal experts do not believe they would make because of the long odds of getting the justices to tamper with the case at this stage.

The three-judge 9th Circuit panel did not elaborate on either Walker’s ruling invalidating Proposition 8 or the issue of allowing gay marriages to proceed right away. But the judges asked the ballot measure’s lawyers to offer arguments on why they have the legal right to appeal when the state’s top two officials, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown, refuse to defend the law and say it is unconstitutional.

Wow. That’s really disheartening. I can’t say I’m surprised with Schwarzenegger: the guy is an actor and Hollywood these days is brimming with contempt for traditional values. (“The Kids Are All Right” brought them to new lows in my book. No matter what its other merits, a story about lesbians who used artificial insemination to have children never should have been released wide. Audiences apparently agreed.)

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