Appeals Court Blocks Same Sex Marriages Pending Prop 8 Appeal

Steve Rhodes

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed this afternoon to stay same sex marriages in California pending Prop 8 proponents’ appeal of the decision by Judge Vaughn Walker that barring same sex couples from getting married is unconstitutional. Last week, Walker himself issued a stay of his own order pending this decision by the appeals court — though, without the action of the court today, same sex marriages could have resumed in California on Wednesday.The brief ruling lays out the expedited timeline for action by the courts and lawyers in the case: the preliminary filings in the case are due September 17; answers are due October 18; and final briefs must be submitted by November 1, 2010. The appeal is set to be heard the week of December 6, 2010.

In an interesting, though somewhat expected development, the lawyers defending Prop 8 — which do not include the state Attorney General or anyone from the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — were ordered to explain in their briefs why their appeal should not be thrown out due to “lack of standing.” Supporters of the ban on same sex marriage argued in their filings Monday for the right to defend the law even when “elected officials refuse to do so.” Same sex marriage supporters and lawyers for the city of San Francisco argued that opponents had no right to represent the interest of the state of California if the state itself disagreed.