A federal appeals court in California
on Wednesday refused to allow gay and lesbian weddings to resume as
it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the state's 2008
voter-approved gay marriage ban, the AP reported.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Vaughn
Walker ruled the law unconstitutional. The decision was appealed by
supporters of the ban and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed
Walker's ruling on hold.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the
court to lift the stay when the case was sidetracked to the
California Supreme Court.
After hearing oral arguments in
December, the appeals court turned to the state's highest court to
decide whether the law's sponsors have the legal standing to defend
it in court.
“We felt then, as we do now, that it
is decidedly unjust and unreasonable to expect California's gay and
lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily
discrimination … while their U.S. District Court victory comes to
its final conclusion,” said Chad Griffin, board chair of the
American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group formed specifically to
argue the case.
In their filing, plaintiffs' lawyers
argued that it's highly unlikely that the law's backers will prevail
in their legal challenge.
“Proposition 8 – and the stay that
allows it to remain in force – is causing great damage,” the
lawyers wrote in their brief. “It is not merely deferring wedding
dates, as Proponents suggest. For those near the end of life, it is
denying the right to marry outright.”
“Proposition 8 carries an
unmistakable message – transmitted and enforced by the State and
tolerated by this Court – that gay men and lesbians are members of
a class of persons unworthy of the fundamental right of marriage and
the 'protection of equal laws.'”