Gay Marriage Ban To Survive A While Longer

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Although a federal judge ruled California's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, gay marriages in the state are on hold until both sides have had a chance to weigh in on the appeal. Today is the last day for Proposition 8 supporters and opponents to submit written arguments. If Judge Vaughn Walker lifts his stay, same-sex marriage could become legal immediately. Karen Grigsby Bates


When Federal Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage two days ago, lots of couples started making wedding plans. But they may have a long wait ahead of them. Today, the judge will start reviewing arguments for and against leaving Prop 8 in force, as the case heads to a higher court.

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports.

(Soundbite of applause)

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: First, there was celebration in places like West Hollywood, where marriage-ban opponents rallied after the ruling. And then came the question from thousands of gay and lesbian couples: When can we get married?

The answer could come soon as Judge Vaughn Walker pours over written arguments from both sides of Prop 8. He decided not to scrap the marriage ban immediately until all sides could weigh in today.

Prop 8 supporters want it to stay in effect while the judge's ruling is appealed. David Cruz is a law professor at the University of Southern California. He says many legal observers are betting the marriage ban will survive a while longer.

Professor DAVID CRUZ (Law, University of Southern California): Most people that I've been speaking to, including people who have been engaged with the litigation, think that one way or another same-sex couples are not going to have an opportunity to start getting married again in California until this case is completely over.

BATES: The reason? Courts hate chaos. The kind that happened after 18,000 same-sex couples got married before Prop 8 passed in November 2008. USC's David Cruz says Judge Walker is going to have to negotiate between the rights of both sides.

Mr. CRUZ: On the one hand, you have plaintiffs who have proven at trial that their fundamental constitutional rights have been violated and that this violation is ongoing and that you need to stop enforcing Prop 8 in order to remedy that. On the other hand, there's an appeals process.

BATES: California's governor and attorney general say there's no need to wait. Late today, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown both filed motions asking Judge Walker to let same-sex marriages start immediately.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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