We’ll be updating this post all day today (scroll down for the latest) to keep you current on today’s decision and reactions. Tips or just your thoughts on the verdict are welcomed in the comments, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by text to 661-927-7325.
11 AM: If you are reading this article, you already know that the decision in whether Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, violates the U.S. Constitution, will be announced some time between 1 and 3 PM PT today.
There’s not going to be any sort of dramatic court hearing announcement moment: as they put it, “the court will issue its written order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law following the court trial held in January and June of this year. The order will be e-filed in the court’s Electronic Case Filing system…(and) a small number of hard copies will also be made available for public review shortly after the order is e-filed.”
That said, we’re told a lot of folks will be gathering in the area near the court, which is located at 450 Golden Gate between Polk and Larkin to, I suppose, absorb the news together (we’ll have folks there too, and will update from the scene).
At 4:30, the plaintiffs in the case and lead attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies will be holding a news conference at the Bentley Reserve at 301 Battery at
Sansome Sacramento (thanks, Lenny!), a location Appeal pal Michael Petrelis notes is known as a location for fancy pants weddings.
Prop 8’s supporters aren’t planning any sort of press conference, but say they’ll be posting a statement on their site.
But that doesn’t mean that supporters of the same sex marriage ban are remaining silent: Proposition 8’s sponsors filed a motion late Tuesday asking the judge in the case to stay his ruling if he decides to strike down the ban while they appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. What does that mean? According to friend of the Appeal and (more importantly) lawyer who understands this stuff:
“A stay is pretty much exactly what you’d think it is; they’re asking the judge not to have the ruling go immediately into effect while the case goes up to the 9th Circuit for appeal. So if the stay is granted, all invalidated marriages would remain invalidated, and no one would be entitled to restart marrying same-sex couples while the appeal is pending.”
So, if Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8 (possible), it’s not a given that gay folks can up and start getting married right away — it depends on his decision on the stay, which, Rita says can be issued “any time (the judge) wants. For controversial stuff like this, usually judges automatically issue a stay at the same time they issue the decision. If Judge Walker doesn’t, though, he can decide the stay whenever he wants, and he obviously doesn’t have to grant it if he doesn’t want to, too.” At publication time, no decision has been made, and we’ll of course update when it is.
You can keep an eye on this page created by the court for updates, or, as noted by SFist, sign up for a text with the official decision by texting “EQUAL” to 69866 or sign up for an email alert at equalrightsfoundation.org.
So far we’re only aware of one post-verdict demonstration: Prop 8 opponents will meet at Castro and Market at 5, then march to SF City Hall for a rally to run from 6:45-8 tonight.
1 PM: OK, it’s 1, but no word yet. It seems like lots of folks are on the edge of their seats. As one reader emailed us, “this prop 8 stuff is killing me, wake me when it’s over, I can’t watch!” and as a fellow journo says “I can’t handle the pressure if this drags on until 3PM!”
As we wait, let’s look at everyone else’s coverage:
Report: anti-gay TV ads swayed Prop. 8 voters (Chron) Apparently, voters are dummies who were “confused about what they were voting for.” WELL OK THEN.
Prop. 8 Backers Cover Their Asses (SF Weekly) More on that stay that Rita explained to you above, with a link to the motion to stay for all you legal document superfans.
Prop. 8 supporters plan appeal before ruling (Chron) More stay chat, losing side will appeal, you know the drill.
Dean Johnson previews Prop 8 ruling (ABC7) This is video, which we hear is The Future Of Journalism! Or was that podcasts? (Shit if I’m already this punchy this is a bad sign) ABC7’s legal analyst Dean Johnson gives his insights, and wears a fetching orange tie while doing so.
Castro District prepares for Prop 8 ruling (ABC7) Tonight’s rally and march will begin in the Castro, which is where many gay people live.
1:40 PM: New York Magazine, of all things, appears to have the scoop, saying that Prop 8 has been overturned. We’re working to confirm that now.
1:48 PM: Good As You apparently has a PDF of the decision, her’s what they’ve posted. We still haven’t independently confirmed, so stay tuned.
1:50 PM: Equality California’s released a statement, saying:
“We are thrilled with today’s ruling, which affirms that the protections enshrined in our U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans and that our dream of equality and freedom deserves protection. Judge Walker has preserved our democracy by ruling that a majority cannot deny a minority group of fundamental freedoms. This is as much a victory for the soul of our nation as it is for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who will be directly impacted.”
1:56 PM: Appeal contrib Matt Baume sends the above video from the crowd at the courthouse.
CBS5’s the first local broadcast station to confirm the ruling.
2:04: The Appeal’s Chris Roberts is at the courthouse (he describes the crowd there as “Pleased pleasant happy but not overly effusive. 50 ppl maybe”), and says that “a group of folks” are headed up to the clerk’s office in city hall to see if “two fine ladies, whose names I’ll get in a minute” will be granted a marriage license. AND I AM TOTALLY TEARING UP I CAN’T LIE TO YOU.
2:10: More statements hitting the Appeal inbox, from Senator Mark Leno, “This decision not only upholds the constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, but also affirms our fundamental rights as human beings, which for so long have been denied.”
2:17: Bay City News has filed this initial report:
A federal judge in San Francisco today overturned Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the voter-approved initiative violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment and due process.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote.
“Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples,” the judge said.
Supporters of Proposition 8 already announced in a filing late Tuesday that they will appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Walker ruled in a lawsuit filed last year by a lesbian couple from Berkeley and a gay couple from Burbank.
He heard evidence in the nonjury trial in January and presided over closing arguments in June.
The case was the nation’s first federal court trial on a U.S. constitutional challenge to a state ban on same-sex marriage.
The judge wrote, “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gays and lesbians.
“The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without a reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples,” Walker said.
The judge issued a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of Proposition 8.
The initiative, approved by California voters as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, provided that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
2:23 PM: Chris Roberts reports that “it’s an absolute scrum” at the City Clerk’s office, where Vanessa Judicpa and Maria Ydil have been issued a marriage license (you can see it happen in the video above).
Roberts reports that Supervisor Bevan Dufty is on scene to perform the ceremony “before anything happens with the stay” (that is, the request made by supporters of Proposition 8 to prevent any same sex marriages from taking place until their appeal is heard).
2:28 PM: Our own Katie Baker’s been scanning media for coverage of the decision, so you can see what everyone else is reporting. Here’s what she’s got do far:
Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California [Updated] (LA Times)
Proposition 8: Long road to the Supreme Court (CNN) This is a good one, on what’ll happen next. Read it!
Same-Sex Marriage Ban Overturned in California (Bloomberg, via SFGate) With an Arnold quote! “For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.”
2:40 PM: Roberts reports that Judge Walker has issued a stay preventing new gay marriages. SF Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting‘s Facebook feed confirms this, saying “Judge Walker issued a temporary stay so we wont be issuing licenses today.”
This was much to the dismay of Joey Hodges, who says, reports Roberts, “he was here first but he didn’t get his paperwork in before the stay.” “I was this close” (holding up two fingers) he said.
However, Vanessa Judicpa and Maria Ydil had their paperwork processed fast enough, after “filling it out as quickly as possible” and filing it. Dufty, says Roberts, is marrying them (as in, officiating) now.
2:52 PM: AP is reporting that “Mormon church “regrets” Calif. gay marriage ruling.”
The church released a statement saying “California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree.” and that “we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.” Unintentionally ironic statement? Discuss. (also, I’m passive aggressively ignoring their “style guide” at the bottom of their statement. I’m such an asshole!)
3:17 PM: The big question seems to be “what is going on with this stay?” I haven’t been able to find a copy of it (have one you want to send me?), nor have my contacts, but unconfirmed reports say that “It’s a two-day stay, and (Judge Walker will) hear arguments from both sides before deciding to lift the stay, so it could last longer.”
This means that Walker could hold a hearing on whether a stay should be imposed for longer (like, until Prop 8’s supporters appeal is decided) on Friday.
But we’re kind of speculating, here. If you hear anything that confirms or disproves it, let’s hear it!
3:27 PM: SF Weekly’s reporting that though Supervisor Dufty officiated at a same-sex marriage today, the wedding was not official, quoting him as saying “no one beat the clock.”
We’ve confirmed the Weekly’s reports with Dufty’s office, which told Roberts that Dufty was called down to City Hall with the understand that he’d be able to officiate at marriage ceremonies today, but that he was later informed by city officials that no official marriages could be performed today.
Reports from Dufty’s office say that this moratorium on same sex marriage will remain until the stay is heard in court, which they confirm could be as soon as Friday.
3:43 PM: A reader sends us a copy of the stay (that is, the decision to put a hold on all same sex marriages for the time being), saying “It’s not quite right that it’s a 2-day stay. It’s a temporary – but indefinite – stay until (Judge Walker) decides the issue, whenever that may be. He ordered the parties to brief the issue by August 6, and he’ll take it under submission then. But he’s unlikely to decide whether to issue the stay pending appeal on August 6. So the temporary stay will likely be more than 2 days, unless he decides the minute he gets the papers.”
3:53 PM: Statement roundup! Let’s clean out the inbox:
Mayor Newsom says “It is a victory for the thousands of California couples, their families and friends whose lives and loving, committed relationships have once again been affirmed in the eyes of the law” and quotes MLK.
The Interfaith Alliance‘s Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister, applauds the decision, saying “in a country that guarantees both religious freedom and ‘justice for all,’ the laws of our land must be based on what is fair and equal, not simply on the religious views of any faith community.” This is not your father’s Baptist minister, folks!
SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office takes all the credit (kidding! Just some), saying “S.F.’s arguments, evidence lent key assist to federal ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional”
4:01 PM: Katie Baker IMs “Newt is not into it” as she sends a link to the former House Speaker’s site, where he says today’s decision “is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution” and urges Congress “to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy.”
4:07 PM: It’s a little sad to watch this video sent in by Matt Baume, who recorded Vanessa Judicpa and Maria Ydil signing their application for marriage before Supervisor Bevan Dufty was prevented by city officials from officially marrying them. But maybe it’s a good sad?
4:11 PM: More details are emerging on how the stay process might work: sources say that what will happen is that both sides (Pro Prop 8 and against) will send in their papers by this Friday, but that no one comes into court. Judge Walker’s then expected to read everything everyone files, and then will probably issue a very short ruling saying that the stay either remains in place and same-sex marriages continue to be verboten, or to lift it. No matter which side wins, it then gets immediately appealed to the 9th Circuit court, who is expected to enforce the stay.
This creates an interesting possibility — if Walker lifts the stay, there could be a 6-48 hour window for marriages until the 9th Circuit court shuts it down (as they’re expected to do). If that window opens, will the same city officials who barred Supervisor Dufty from making Vanessa Judicpa and Maria Ydil’s union legal keep that window shut, or fling it open? We’re trying to find that out right now, and are leaving messages all over the place!
4:42 PM: Katie Baker continues to find you great links to coverage, like this Washington Post piece rounding up reactions from the religious community. Here’s the score: Catholics call the decision “tragic” and a “misuse of law.” You already know about the Mormons, the Family Research Council is rather frowny face, saying “homosexuals prefer not to enter into marriages as historically defined, ” and Orthodox Jews say they’re disappointed. Episcopalians, Reform Jews, and the aforementioned Baptist from the Interfaith Alliance are all in support of the decision.
Enough with the religious, what about the famous? Us says famous people are “flooding Twitter” with messages of support. Shockingly, Mel Gibson goes unmentioned.