Gay couples who had been gearing up to get married in California this week had to put their wedding plans on hold once again after a federal appeals court said it first wanted to consider the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed an emergency stay Monday on a trial court judge's ruling overturning the ban, known as Proposition 8. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had ordered state officials to stop enforcing the measure starting Wednesday, clearing the way for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"It's saddening just to know that we still have to keep waiting for this basic human right," Marcia Davalos, of Los Angeles, a health care advocate who had planned to marry her partner, Laurette Healey, said when the stay was issued Monday. "We were getting excited and then all of a sudden it's like, 'Ugh.' It's a roller-coaster."
Lawyers for the two gay couples who challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel's decision on the stay to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said they were satisfied the appeals court had agreed to fast-track its consideration of the Proposition 8 case by scheduling oral arguments for the week of Dec. 6.
"Today's order from the 9th Circuit for an expedited hearing schedule ensures that we will triumph over Prop. 8 as quickly as possible," said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group funding the effort to get the voter-approved gay marriage ban permanently overturned. "Our attorneys are ready to take this case all the way through the appeals court and to the United States Supreme Court."