Prop. 8: Gay marriage still on hold in California, says Ninth Circuit
The Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday not to lift the 'temporary' stay on same-sex marriages in California, imposed in August 2010.
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That is the March 23 decision of three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after they were asked to lift a stay on last year’s ruling that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional. Prop. 8 is a voter initiative that limits marriage to heterosexual couples, passed by referendum in 2008 and declared unconstitutional by a district court in 2010.
Gay-rights advocates say they had hoped that same-sex couples could marry while appeals progressed, especially as the Ninth Circuit said last autumn that those appeals would be put on a legal fast track – but that track has taken a detour. “We think the court made a mistake, because there is no direct harm to others if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, but there is direct harm to us by not getting married,” says Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.
The California Supreme Court indicated in February that it will not open hearings before September on the key question of standing – i.e., who can make the appeal, since the original defendants, the governor and attorney general, have refused to continue defending Prop. 8.
"The Ninth Circuit did the right thing by rejecting the attempt to suspend Prop. 8 and allow same-sex marriage, contrary to the vote of the people, long before the legal challenge against Prop. 8 reaches a final decision,” Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Prop. 8, said in a statement.
Most legal scholars seem to agree that the Ninth Circuit acted reasonably under the circumstances. “The Ninth Circuit has decided, out of deference to state law, that it should wait for the input of the California Supreme Court before it decides the case,” says Kevin Johnson, Dean of the University of California – Davis Law School.