Court halts Calif. gay marriages pending appeal

Prop 8 supporter Mark Wassberg (L) argues with Prop 8 opponent Ron Weaver as they waited to hear the ruling on Prop 8 outside of the Philip Burton Federal building August 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
Prop 8 supporter Mark Wassberg (L) argues with Prop 8 opponent Ron Weaver as they waited to hear the ruling on Prop 8 outside of the Philip Burton Federal building August 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
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SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court put same-sex weddings in California on hold Monday while it considers the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. | Permalink

Prop 8 case may not reach Supreme Court
Douglas NeJaime, associate professor of Law at Loyola Law School, said one of the issues the 9th circuit Court of Appeals will consider once lawyers from both sides file their briefs is whether the proponents of Prop 8 have any legal standing to appeal the lower court judge's stay order.

Should the panel decide the proponents have no legal standing, the case may end then and there, NeJaime said.
-KPCC staff
Updated at 5:15 p.m. | Permalink

Plaintiff: 'I am tired of putting on a happy face'

"We don't care what the legal excuse is that the court gave,'' said Diane Olson, a plaintiff in the original state-court challenge to Proposition 8 and one-half of the first couple to marry in Los Angeles County in 2008. "I am tired of putting on a happy face every time our feelings get decimated by the court system.''

Her spouse, Robin Tyler, added, "We are tired of our emotions being batted around like ping pong balls. Gays and lesbians are human beings, and there is not one legal reason to delay same-sex marriages in California.''
-KPCC wire services
Earlier | Permalink

Appeals court puts same-sex marriages on hold

The decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, trumps a lower court judge's order that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday.

Lawyers for the two gay couples that challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel's decision on the stay to the Supreme Court.

In its two-page order granting the stay, the 9th Circuit agreed to expedite its consideration of the Proposition 8 case. The court plans to hear the case during the week of Dec. 6 after moving up deadlines for both sides to file their written arguments by Nov. 1.

"We are very gratified that the 9th Circuit has recognized the importance and the pressing nature of this case by issuing this extremely expedited briefing schedule," said Ted Boutrous, a member of the plaintiffs' legal team.

A different three-judge panel than the one that issued Monday's decision will be assigned to decide the constitutional question.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker decided last week to allow gay marriages to go forward after ruling the ban violated equal protection and due process rights of gays and lesbians guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

The Proposition 8 legal team quickly appealed Walker's ruling in the case many believe will end up before the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for two same-sex couples had joined with California Attorney General Jerry Brown in urging the appeals court to allow the weddings, arguing that keeping the ban in place any longer would harm the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

Walker presided over a 13-day trial earlier this year that was the first in federal court to examine if states can prohibit gays from getting married without violating the constitutional guarantee of equality.

Supporters argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing.

Opponents said that tradition or fears of harm to heterosexual unions were legally insufficient grounds to discriminate against gay couples.

Currently, same-sex couples can legally wed only in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

KPCC's Julie Small contributed audio to this report.