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Appeals court grants stay on same-sex marriage

POSTED August 18, 2010 5:05 p.m.

California’s ban on same-sex marriages, scheduled to end today, will last at least until December.

A three-judge, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Monday granted a stay of an Aug. 4 U.S. District Court ruling which would have overturned California’s Proposition 8, effective today.

“California voters spoke clearly on Prop. 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the court,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the defendants in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case. “Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself.”

In his ruling, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker found Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional both under the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, as it violates constitutional rights to equality. More than 52 percent of California voters approved Prop. 8 in the Nov. 4, 2008 election, changing the California Constitution to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.

In a victory for same-sex marriage supporters, the appeals court announced they will expedite their schedule for deciding the case, with opening briefs due in September and arguments to be held in December. A three-judge panel will hear the case at that time.

“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit Court is expediting the case against Proposition 8 and is considering whether the groups that placed Prop. 8 on the ballot have standing to appeal,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We are extremely disappointed that loving same-sex couples will have to wait to marry, and that we are once again being denied our fundamental rights. However, we are optimistic for a favorable ruling, and we’re hopeful that same-sex couples will be able to marry as soon as possible.”

Even if the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Walker’s ruling, same-sex marriages may still not resume in December. Prop. 8 supporters still have the option of appealing the result to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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