9th Circuit grants indefinite stay in Prop 8 case

August 17, 2010 12:33:49 AM PDT
Opponents of same-sex marriage in California won a significant legal victory Monday. A federal appeals court granted an emergency motion that puts same-sex marriages on hold for months to come. If the stay had not been granted, couples could have applied for marriage licenses starting Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Thea Lavin and Jess Gabbert had been hoping that this week they could tell family and friends to join them at San Francisco City Hall. The couple had an elaborate wedding ceremony last month, but they want legal recognition.

"It's almost tangible the way it feels not having legal recognition from the state; it feels like society is discouraging you," Lavin said.

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled to keep same-sex marriages on hold until December while the legal wrangling continues. But the judges said they want those who oppose the marriages to explain why they have any legal standing or say in the case.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has said if you're just someone who supported a law, or funded a campaign, you don't have standing to be involved in the challenge to that statute," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said.

But supporters of Prop 8, the measure that banned same-sex marriages, say they have a right to be part of the legal battle because the seven million Californians who approved the proposition will be harmed if the weddings resume.

"If the people vote for something and that's challenged, the people have got to have some kind of representative to take a stand and defend what the people voted for," legal counsel for Protect Marriage Andy Pugno said.

San Francisco City Hall was preparing to stay open late to handle at least 150 same-sex weddings each day.

"My heart goes out to all those couples and their families that were looking forward to coming to City Hall," Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

Lawyers for the couples that challenged Prop 8 say they would not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said they were satisfied the appeals court had agreed to expedite the case by scheduling oral arguments for the week of Dec. 6.

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