Gay marriages will resume in California
after a federal judge Thursday denied a motion to stay his ruling
against Proposition 8.
“California is now the sixth state
where same-sex couples share in the freedom to marry,” Evan
Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, said. “As the
governor, the attorney general and Judge Walker have all concluded,
there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from
While Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn
Walker refused to stay his ruling, he declared that Proposition 8
will remain in effect until Wednesday, August 18 at 5PM, giving
supporters of the measure nearly a week to appeal.
City lawmakers in West Hollywood had
announced they would begin marrying gay and lesbian couples on a
first-come, first-serve basis at a local park, if the stay was
lifted. Demonstrations and marches are also expected to take place
in major cities.
Walker issued his 138-page ruling,
which declared the gay marriage ban to be unconstitutional, last
Wednesday. Walker concluded that the voter-approved measure violates
the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples who wish to
marry in California after conducting a 13-day trial in a San
Francisco courtroom in January.
A coalition of social conservative
groups – including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and
Protect Marriage – sponsored Proposition 8 after the California
Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Voters narrowly approved the
measure in November of 2008, just five months after the court's
Walker ruled that Proposition 8
violates federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and
due process, but placed his decision on hold temporarily. On Friday,
he heard arguments on whether to allow gay marriages to proceed as
the case is being appealed.
California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown joined attorneys
representing the plaintiffs – two gay couples – in urging Walker
to lift the stay.
Schwarzenegger said the state was
prepared to resume gay marriages. Brown, who last year refused to
defend the law, agreed.
“Government officials can resume
issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty,”
the governor's office said in its filing.
Proponents of Prop 8 had argued that
lifting the ban would put gay marriages taking place during the
appeal process “under a cloud of uncertainty.”
About 18,000 gay couples married during
the 2008 window when gay marriage was legal.