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Why 'I Do' Will Remain 'I Don't Think So' For the Foreseeable Future

Why 'I Do' Will Remain 'I Don't Think So' For the Foreseeable Future

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8 in California last week was a milestone for gay rights.  Really, it was a very important notch in the belt for the gay rights movement nationwide. It appeared as though same sex marriages would -- once again -- be legal in one of the most populous states in the union. He wrote in his ruling that they have no right to appeal as his decision striking down the state law would have to be defended by Gov. Schwarzenegger and/or Attorney General Brown.  And Schwarzenegger and Brown have both publicly called for marriages to resume immediately.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8 in California last week was a milestone for gay rights.  Really, it was a very important notch in the belt for the gay rights movement nationwide.

It appeared as though same sex marriages would -- once again -- be legal in one of the most populous states in the union. 

California is a bellwether state for social and cultural movements.  When Californians speak, the rest of the country listens.  This is what made the passage of Prop 8 so devastating in the first place.  

Walker’s opinion was a message to the masses: civil rights are not up for popular vote.

Believe me, I’m grateful.  I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful advocate for the cause.

However, it must be noted that today’s decision to lift the stay was just enough to placate both sides of the fence. 

Judge Walker ruled that same sex couples should be allowed to get married immediately — BUT was still giving proponents a week to appeal the decision before his ruling goes into effect. 

Prop 8 supporters have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18 to file their motion with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Walker’s stay decision gave same-sex marriage supporters the hope that they will one day soon see their peers celebrating their love for one another in courthouses, and some churches, across the state. 

But, unfortunately, he also created another avenue for proponents of the ban to appeal.  He extended the temporary hold a little less than a week, ample time for supporters to draft an appeal. 

And they have already started."If the trial court's decision is eventually reversed, refusing to stay the decision will senselessly create legal uncertainty surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending," the sponsors said in a prepared statement.

Walker, in essence, pushed the responsibility over to the 9th Circuit. 

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It is important to note that Walker made it clear today that he feels as though Prop 8 supporters don’t have a legal leg to stand on.

He wrote in his ruling that they have no right to appeal as his decision striking down the state law would have to be defended by Gov. Schwarzenegger and/or Attorney General Brown.  And Schwarzenegger and Brown have both publicly called for marriages to resume immediately. 

"As it appears at least doubtful that proponents will be able to proceed with their appeal without a state defendant, it remains unclear whether the Court of Appeals will be able to reach the merits of proponents' appeal," Walker wrote.

But, there’s never no way to appeal.  It really all depends on how the appeals court decides to look at it. 

And they could decide to give Prop 8 supporters a sense of fairness as this is such a high profile and emotional debate.  Or they could decide that a stay is necessary in order to help both sides feel that their arguments are being taken seriously.  

They also could favor a permanent stay in order to avoid the emotional and legal chaos, which would ensue if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against gay marriage, after thousands more couples have already married.  The fewer couples affected by a forced change in marital status the better. 

The case now goes before a special panel of three judges.  Two of which were appointed by Democrats, and the third, a Republican.

It’s just a shame that people’s lives and loves must be put on hold for yet another week, because Judge Walker has gotten cold feet.

 

Read more of Leslie's storieshere. 

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Leslie Dobbins