A federal judge Thursday asked lawyers
for both sides of a lawsuit against California's gay marriage ban for
a “plan of action” when they return to court, saying he wants to
place the case on a fast track, the AP reported.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker told
lawyers that he would conduct a full trial because he expects the
case to one day reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
The lawsuit was filed on May 22 by a
lesbian couple and a gay couple who would like to marry in California
but were denied a license because of Proposition 8, the
voter-approved measure that bans gay marriage in the state.
The two couples are represented by Ted
Olson and David Boies, who squared off nine years ago when the
Supreme Court decided the presidential election. Both are considered
brilliant constitutional lawyers, but their collaboration has raised
eyebrows considering their opposing political viewpoints.
Walker denied Olson, who appeared
alone, a preliminary injunction suspending Proposition 8, saying
such a ruling would create confusion about the status of new
marriages, but agreed a speedy resolution was in everyone's best
“Every day that Proposition 8 is
enforced perpetuates a tragic injustice on tens of thousands of
Californians,” Olson told the court.
The lawsuit is a new strategy in the
fight for gay marriage in California. Previously, advocates have
avoided raising federal issues, fearing a misstep would put the
movement back decades by creating a legal precedent.
With the backing of anonymous sources,
Olson and Boies, outsiders to the gay rights movement, filed the
Gay rights groups initially called
fighting the gay marriage ban in federal court a “very high risk
proposition” but have since altered course. In legal briefs filed
last week, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) backed the lawsuit.
On June 30, the court ruled that the
official campaign behind Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage.com, would be
allowed to defend the measure after successfully arguing that
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has called the measure
unconstitutional, was unlikely to mount a vigorous defense.
The lawsuit is a high-stakes gamble for
gay marriage activists who have previously advocated for a
state-based approach that builds upon previous court rulings and
legislative wins. But a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court would
likely strike down 43 state bans simultaneously.
Olson said the case was headed to the
Supreme Court: “We expect to win. The Supreme Court has repeatedly
said the right to marry is fundamental.”
“I think Californians should be
troubled that their vote, their decision on this matter continues to
be challenged,” Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com,
said after the hearing.
Lawyers are expected back in court