gay_cityhall_gavel.jpgAnother chapter in the long fight for marriage equality will be written tomorrow, as a court in San Francisco is expected to announce its decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same sex marriage.

The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals is expected to release its decision at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern Time in the Perry v. Brown case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

The ruling from a three-judge panel is expected to address whether former U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from hearing the case because he is gay. The Protect Marriage sponsors contend Walker had a conflict of
interest because he may have wanted to marry.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that judges who are members of a minority group don’t need to disqualify themselves from ruling on cases affecting that group. Another federal trial judge, U.S. District Judge James Ware, agreed last year that Walker did not need to excuse himself from hearing the case. The Proposition 8 sponsors are appealing that decision.

The decision is also expected to address whether Prop 8′s supporters (sponsors of the 2008 ballot measure and their campaign committee, Protect Marriage) can appeal Walker’s decision striking down Prop 8, even though none of the state defendants wanted to do so, and if Walker didn’t need to recuse himself and Prop 8 fans can appeal, did Prop 8 violate California’s constitution?

Confused? You can find a pretty comprehensive overview of the case here at Metro Weekly.

The panel heard oral arguments on the appeal in December 2010. Tomorrow’s decision was delayed, however, as the discussion took a detour to the California Supreme Court to decide if supporters of Prop 8 have the right to appeal Walker’s ruling striking the ban down in the first place.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the lead plaintiff in the case, will be hosting a news conference in Los Angeles at 10:30, which will be live streamed here.

At 11 AM, SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera will host a news conference in the South Light Court of SF’s City Hall to make a statement and answer questions about the ruling.

According to Marriage Equality USA, “same-sex couples, friends, family and clergy” will gather at the Courthouse steps (95 7th Street at Mission) at 9:45 AM Tuesday. “The Court will release the ruling at 10:00 AM. Those gathered will then walk to the steps of San Francisco City Hall, where clergy will bless the unions of couples unable to marry because of Prop 8.”

At 5:00 PM, a community rally will be held at Castro and Market, Marriage Equality USA says.

“Whether the Ninth Circuit agrees with Judge Walker or reverse his ruling, it’s unlikely same-sex marriages will resume in California before a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether to take the case,” reports KRON4.

Sources the Appeal spoke with on the same sex marriage side agreed, with one predicting that “there is a .000000001% chance that the stay would be lifted. The justices will likely stay whatever their decision is, since they know that there’s going to be an appeal.”

According to Reuters, both sides have said they will appeal, should they lose in tomorrow’s decision. The panel’s ruling can be appealed to an expanded, 11-judge panel of the appeals court, before the expected appearance In front of the US Supreme Court.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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