Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Created: 08/12/2010 06:22:09 PM PDT
Special section: Same-sex marriage
A federal judge in San Francisco put gay marriages on hold for at least another six days in California, disappointing dozens of gay couples who lined up outside City Halls hoping to tie the knot Thursday.
Judge Vaughn Walker gave opponents of same-sex weddings until 5 p.m. Aug. 18 to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriage should resume. Gay marriages could happen at that point or be put off indefinitely depending on how the court rules.
Walker struck down the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban last week in a case many contend is destined for the Supreme Court.
But he moved to suspend gay weddings until he could consider arguments from both sides on whether the marriages should be allowed during an appeal of his ruling.
Walker now says gay marriage should resume, but he gave conservatives the extra time to get the appeals court to weigh in.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, such as Rancho Cucamonga resident Caryn Payzant, said Thursday’s ruling was disappointing.
Walker should not be taking additional action until the 9th Circuit Court has had the time to address the matter, said Payzant, a member of the Protect Marriage movement.
Walker’s decision “is really a slap in the face to all those voters who believe in democracy,” she said.
The millions who cast votes on the marriage issue was also on the mind of Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills.
“This is a shock to the California state constitution, a shock to democracy and a shock to our ability to maintain a stable society,” Hibbs said.
California voters passed Proposition 8 as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, five months after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples already had tied the knot.
“Why should we vote if a single judge is going to overturn the will of the people?” Hibbs asked.
Supporters of same-sex marriage said they viewed Thursday’s ruling as a significant step toward lifting the suspension on gay weddings.
Rachel Ours, a Riverside resident and member of the Board of Directors for Equality Inland Empire, said she and her partner were jubilant following Thursday’s ruling.
“There was a lot of laughing and shouting going on,” Ours said.
After hearing from lawyers working with gay marriage proponents and carefully reviewing the judge’s ruling, Ours said all indications are that “come next Thursday we’re good to go.”
Several gay couples are considering submitting marriage license applications together next week, she said.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office is making preparations to comply with Walker’s decision and may begin issuing licenses as early as next week.
Lawyers for gay couples, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as Attorney General Jerry Brown filed legal motions last Friday asking that same-sex marriages be allowed to immediately resume.
Walker said on Thursday that ban proponents didn’t convince him that anyone would be harmed by allowing same-sex marriages to resume.
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