Ninth Circuit Court Denies Lift Of Stay On Gay Marriages, Californians Devastated Again

Last month lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies asked California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay on marriage ceremonies that it instituted almost immediately after Judge Walker’s ruling decreed Proposition 8 unconstitutional and discriminatory. Today, the Ninth Circuit Court denied their request: the stay on same-sex marriages in California will remain in effect. When Olson and Boies first made this request, they pointed out that except for those lucky few who managed to squeeze an emergency wedding in during the short period of time where marriage was both legal and allowed to occur, many couples in California have been waiting years for their weddings, even after the official acknowledgement (both from Judge Walker in his court decision and from Obama’s verbal announcement that Section 3 of DOMA, the one that has the “between a man and a woman” wording, is unconstitutional) that the law preventing them is unfair and discriminatory. To all those people – many of whom have children, many of whom are losing thousands of dollars per year because they can’t be granted the same tax breaks as married heterosexual couples, many of whom have been waiting for this their whole lives – the judges offered a one-sentence ruling:

“Having considered all of the factors set forth in Nken v. Holder, 129 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2009), and all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the stay pending appeal, as well as the standard for vacatur set forth in Southeast Alaska Conservation Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 472 F.3d 1097, 1101 (9th Cir. 2006), we deny Plaintiffs’ motion at this time.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization that represented the original plaintiffs of the Prop 8 case, issued this statement earlier today:

Several weeks ago, we filed a motion with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking the Court to lift its stay and allow California’s gay and lesbian couples to marry. We felt then, as we do now, that it is decidedly unjust and unreasonable to expect California’s gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second-class citizens while their US District Court victory comes to its final conclusion.

It is un-American to deprive gay and lesbian couples of their fundamental constitutional right to marry. These are adults in committed, loving relationships who just want to live their lives without government interference.

Last August, the US District Court declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. We believe that the courts will permanently secure the freedom to marry for all Californians.


This ruling doesn’t actually change the course of Prop 8′s progress through the courts; it just means that thousands of people will have to have their life plans deferred while they wait at the leisure of the justice system. Right now the case is on a detour to the California Supreme Court, which will issue a decision on whether or not the apellants of Judge Walker’s decision do, in fact, have standing to appeal the ruling at all. If they rule that they do, then the case will continue to a federal appeals court. It’s widely speculated that, in the endless rounds of appeals that controversial (and well-funded by conservative religious backers) cases like this tend to have, it may end up in the Supreme Court; given the Department of Justice’s recent announcement that they will no longer defend DOMA, that would be an interesting and possibly fortuitous outcome. Until then, everyone’s hearts are with the people of California, and we hope for them that this is the last time they have to be let down by the system meant to protect their rights.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books as well as news and politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel currently lives in Michigan. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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14 Comments

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    OK, so basically Justice Walker is the only one strong enough to stand up and say that this is unconstitutional. Everyone else just wants to sit by and pass this decision on to someone else. Meanwhile, while these judges are busy playing “pass the buck” hundreds of thousands of California gay and lesbian couples have to suffer. Seems fair to me….NOT!!!!! *Sigh*, hopefully this case will make it’s way through the justice system in a fairly quick manner, but I won’t hold my breath!

    My thoughts and prayers go out to ALL of us gay and lesbian couples that want to marry and are unable to despite the fact that even our President is realizing that DOMA is unconstitutional!!

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    I hope all of these small (not that it’s really small when it crushes my heart each time) let-downs, like stays and shit eventually pay off into one big FUCK YES of Prop 8 smackdown.

    Please? :( Judge Walker can’t be the only judge in the system actually doing his job.

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    I feel like having a double funeral for Prop 8 and Liz Taylor… except I’m hoping one of them can be brought back from the other side (actually, to be honest, both…)

    *ugh*

    I’m so sorry.

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    People who support Prop 8: I condemn to a lifetime of awkward silences whenever the words, ‘equal rights’ are uttered in your presence.

    You’re like the douchey white lady in video clips from the civil rights era, talking about how forcing her to serve black people in her cafe is imposing on her civil liberties. Your assholery has been noted, and will periodically re-appear to kill your conversations, and probably confuse and humiliate your grandkids.

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