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Judge lifts stay on same-sex marriages

POSTED August 13, 2010 9:49 p.m.
Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker lifted a temporary stay on overturning Proposition 8, clearing the way for gay and lesbian couples to begin marrying at 5 p.m. on Wednesday – should a federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court not intervene.“Today we are overjoyed, not only for all of the committed couples who are finally able marry as well as for their family and friends, but also because a fundamental constitutional freedom has been restored,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “This case has definitively proven that extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples causes no harm and is in line with our country’s core values of equality and liberty. Today is a monumental step forward for our entire nation.”More than 52 percent of California voters approved banning same sex-marriages in the Nov. 4, 2008 election, when Proposition 8 was passed to change the California Constitution to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.Walker overturned Prop. 8 on Aug. 4, finding the law unconstitutional both under the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, as it violates constitutional rights to equality. But Walker granted a temporary stay of his decision to give the Prop. 8 legal defense team a chance to appeal.On Wednesday Walker ruled against extending that stay until an appeal could be completed, basing his decision on three key legal points: whether Walker believed the defense team would succeed in an appeal, whether a stay will irreparably injure Prop. 8 supporters or opponents, and whether a stay would be in the best public interest.When Walker’s temporary stay expires at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, same-sex couples will be allowed to wed, should higher courts not step in.Backers of Proposition 8 filed a 73-page emergency appeal in federal appeals court Friday, arguing that Walker’s ruling is factually incorrect and full of legal errors. They seek an emergency stay of Walker’s ruling until the appeals court can hear the case."The district court simply ignored virtually everything — judicial authority, the works of eminent scholars past and present in all relevant academic fields, extensive documentary and historical evidence, and even common sense — opposed to its conclusions," the ProtectMarriage lawyers wrote.The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will have the option to place a hold on Walker’s ruling until the appeal is processed, which could yet prevent same-sex marriages from resuming. If the court decides to stay Walker’s ruling, but does so after Wednesday, it remains possible same-sex marriage will become legal for just a brief period of time.The appeals court has no defined timeline to respond to the ProtectMarriage appeal.To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.
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