Just when it seemed gay marriage in California would become the stuff of law, a federal appeals court put same-sex marriage on hold this past Monday while it deliberates over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which effectively bans same-sex unions in the U.S.
A three judge-panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit of appeals issued a decision that overrode Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s earlier order that same-sex marriage be legalized beginning this Wednesday, August 18th. Judge Walker openly criticized the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 in the hearing, stating that it violated equal protection and due process rights of gays and lesbians. He also negated claims that Proposition 8 could not be overturned due to voter sentiment, stating, “That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant.”
Immediately after Judge Walker’s ruling, supporters of Proposition 8 appealed the case, which ended up in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. California attorney Jerry Brown, joined by two lawyers representing same-sex couples, are currently attempting to persuade the judges that banning same-sex marriage violates the Constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. The opposition argues that same-sex marriage undermines safe, traditional childrearing techniques and destabilizes the traditional understanding of marriage in the United States.
Based on the conclusion the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arrives at, the plaintiffs and defendants have the option of appealing the decision to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whereby the case would become a matter for the Supreme Court to handle–a route many believe the battle will end up taking due to its highly controversial and contested nature. As of now, same-sex couples can only legally wed in six areas: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Iowa, and Vermont.
Photo from ProComKelly via flickr