Thursday, August 5, 2010

Proposition 8 Found Unconstitutional, Now What?

55366915Hooray! All will be free to marry who they wish and the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in 2008 will be valid. Not.

Unfortunately, our legal system is a bit more complicated than that. California's ban on gay marriage, will be nothing if not a long and winding road. Today, there is a signpost in that road.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker handed down his decision in the first federal court challenge to the constitutionality of the law. Despite the court's holding that the law does violate the constitution, not much will change today for same sex couples in the Golden State who wish to marry. Before the decision was announced, Prop 8 supporters had the petition ready to challenge the ruling.
Judge Walker's ruling was clearly based on basic logic. "California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples," Judge Walker wrote, "as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result." Translation: It was already done and the world didn't crash into oblivion so why not?

But do not look for rice and white roses for same sex couples anytime in the very near future. A motion to stay (temporarily halt) the decision was already filed and an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is in the works.

LA 160215.ME.0804.Prop-eight.14.WJS.jpg

So, if since it's found unconstitutional, can't we get married while this is ongoing? No.

Judge Walker has refused to allow same sex marriages to take place during the on-going legal process, citing the uncertainly that will result until the law is settled. Despite the decision from the court today, Californians will still have to wait to see what the long term effects of allowing gay marriage would truly have on the lives of not only those who then marry, but on all citizens.

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