Federal Appeals Court Lifts Stay On California Same Sex Marriages

A federal appeals court in San Francisco cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit today lifted a stay that had blocked gay and lesbian weddings while sponsors of Proposition 8 appealed that court’s decision striking down the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Gov. Jerry Brown said, “This means that same-sex marriage is again legal in California.”

State Attorney General Kamala Harris and lawyers for two couples who sued to challenge Proposition 8 agreed that same-sex marriage can now resume statewide.

Brown said he has notified clerks and registrars in all 58 counties that same-sex marriage is now legal in California and that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately.

Harris said, “I am thrilled that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow-same-sex couples to legally marry in California.”

The first pair to be married following the appeals court action were one of the plaintiff couples, Kris Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley. The couple was married by Harris at San Francisco City Hall this afternoon.

The foundation said the other plaintiff couple, Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami of Burbank, would be married in Los Angeles this afternoon.

The appeals court’s stay was of an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco in 2010 that blocked state officials from enforcing Proposition 8.

The dissolving of the stay allows the injunction to go into effect.

The three-judge panel’s action could be overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, but sponsors of Proposition 8 did not say today whether they will go to the high court.

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the sponsors, said, “It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on, but either way, it is a disgraceful day for California.”

The lifting of the stay on same-sex marriage comes after the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote Wednesday dismissed an appeal by the Proposition 8 sponsors of a 2012 ruling by the 9th Circuit that struck down the measure.

The court said the sponsors, as a private party, had no standing or legal authority to appeal after Brown and Harris, the official defendants in the case, declined to do so.

The dismissal of the appeal left Walker’s 2010 ruling in place.

Under Supreme Court rules, the high court decision will not be final for a 25-day period during which the sponsors could seek a rehearing.

Such rehearings are rarely granted by the high court.

But because the stay was issued by the 9th Circuit and not by the high court, the appeals court had the power to lift the stay before the end of the 25-day period.

The panel that dissolved the stay acted unanimously and was made up of Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins, and N. Randy Smith. The same panel struck down Proposition 8 by a 2-1 vote last year, with Smith dissenting.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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