COURT LIFTS STAY: CALIFORNIANS MARRY
Same-sex couples in California don’t have to wait any longer to get married — the roadblock to issuance of licenses was lifted today.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit “lifted its stay on an injunction which ordered state officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “With the court's action, counties can now begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.”
The couples who brought the suit challenging Prop. 8, struck down Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court, will be the first to marry. Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were married at San Francisco City Hall shortly before 5 p.m. today, with. California attorney general Kamala Harris officiating. Onlookers cheered after she pronounced them “spouses for life” and they kissed. Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank were married at City Hall in Los Angeles at 6:25 p.m. today by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Normally a Supreme Court ruling takes 25 days to go into effect, and this was expected to be the case with the Prop. 8 ruling. But the order from the Ninth Circuit means marriages can begin immediately.
“After four and a half long and painful years, justice for committed gay and lesbian couples has finally been delivered,” said a statement issued by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “In California, a time of struggle and indignity are over, and love, justice and freedom begin anew. And now, no election, no judge — no one — can take this basic right away. At long last, marriage has finally returned to the most populous state in the nation.”
Before joining HRC, Griffin was head of the Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Equal Rights, which organized the lawsuit challenging Prop. 8. The group brought in high-profile lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, who had argued for different sides in Bush v. Gore, the case concerned with the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election.
California voters had approved Prop. 8 in 2008, amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage after a state Supreme Court decision briefly legalized such unions.
The federal lawsuit against Prop. 8 contended that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. Two sets of California governors and attorneys general declined to defend Prop. 8, so the measure’s supporters took up the defense.
In December 2010, U.S. district judge Vaughn Walker found Prop. 8 unconstitutional “because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis.”
Then in 2012 the Ninth Circuit agreed that the measure is unconstitutional, but ruled in a more narrow fashion, so that its decision could not be applied to other states. Supporters of Prop. 8 then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which Wednesday ruled 5-4 that they did not have standing to defend the law.
“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here,” stated the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts. That means Judge Walker's ruling stands and Prop. 8 is no more.
Griffin, in his statement, promised to keep up the fight for equality nationwide. “Today is a day of profound celebration, but tomorrow — and every day from here on out — we will fight until joy, dignity, and full equality in all its forms reach each and every corner of this vast country,” he said.
Suzanne Hufft and Val Robb exchange vows as they are married at San Francisco City Hall.