David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Gay Couples In CA Plan To Wed; Opponents Appeal

 By: David Shepherd – dshepherd@wtwo.com

August 14, 2010

Same-sex couples in California will legally be able to marry starting Wednesday, unless the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals intervenes.  This, as the state’s Attorney General, Jerry Brown, urges the federal appeals court to waste no time in allowing gay marriages to resume.

Earlier this week, a lower court overturned Proposition 8 (the state’s ban on same-sex marriage) saying it was unconstitutional.  Opponents of same-sex marriage, including a group of religious and conservative groups who call themselves the “Protect Marriage” coalition, want the 9th Circuit to reinstate a hold on same sex marriages until the appeals process goes through.

Protect Marriage has already filed an appeal with the appellate court asking for the hold.  But Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, told NBC News the court should not grant the group’s request to put a stay on gay marriages.

“While there is still the potential for limited administrative burdens should future marriages of same-sex couples be later declared invalid, these potential burdens are outweighed by the district court’s conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence, that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional,” he said.

Judge Says Group May Not Have Right to Appeal

Judge Vaughn Walker

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional has brought hope to many same-sex couples that want to marry and has drawn criticism from conservatives and members of the religious community.

Vocal opponents of gay marriage want the 9th Circuit to prevent same-sex couples from getting married and, ultimately, want the court to overturn Judge Walker’s decision.  But Walker says the conservative group, Protect Marriage, may not have the legal right to file their appeal.

According to NBC News, Walker has expressed doubts over whether the group can challenge his ruling without the support of the state’s attorney general or the governor.  Both officials have recently said they see no reason why gay couples should not be able to get married now.

Is Washington D.C. Leading the Way?

Some say yes.  Earlier this year, the D.C. City Council voted to make same-sex marriage legal in the nation’s capitol.  Now, gay couples can apply for a marriage license and legally be wed in the District of Columbia.  The law, however, does not require clergy or religious organizations to perform gay weddings.

Chronology of Gay Rights - Interactive Map

Since Congress oversees D.C.’s laws, they had 30 days to file a joint resolution of disapproval that would eventually need to be signed by President Obama.  But Congress failed to act, sending a message, to some, that gay marriage is becoming more acceptable as more states act to make them legal.

Currently, 5 states and the District of Columbia offer full marriage rights to same-sex couples.  If gays are allowed to marry in California, it would become the 6th state to do so.

August 14, 2010 - Posted by | News & Current Events

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