Opponents Try To Block Calif. Same-Sex Marriage

The sponsors of California's gay marriage ban have asked an appeals court to stop a federal judge's order allowing same-sex weddings to begin next week. Defenders of Proposition 8 asked the appeals court to impose a stay that would halt gay marriages while a judge's ruling that struck down the ban is reconsidered. Last week, a judge ruled Prop 8 was unconstitutional.

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Here in California, a federal judge has reaffirmed his earlier ruling that Proposition 8, the state's ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional. At the same time, he kept those marriages on hold until next Wednesday.

Scores of gay couples were hoping the judge would allow weddings to begin immediately. And they're not the only ones disappointed, as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES: Floyd Weldon and his partner Tim Bone were hoping for the best. They came to the Beverly Hills courthouse ready to exchange vows and waited patiently for the judge's decision. It finally came. Weldon read about it on his iPhone.

Mr. FLOYD WELDON: Judge Vaughn Walker just denied a stay in the Prop 8 decision, meaning California gay couples can marry immediately.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONZALES: But that was only half right, and the celebration was short-lived. Judge Walker lifted his stay, but also said that same-sex marriages couldn't resume until next week.

For Tim Bone, the excitement for what might've been, melted away.

Mr. TIM BONE: I was in tears and cried, and now I'm feeling a little better. You know, it was just like deflation at the moment. But, you know, in the end, a family is a family is a family. Nobody grows up wanting to get domestically partnered. You grow up wanting to get married.

GONZALES: At the West Hollywood city hall, Scott Campbell and his partner Scott Hall were equally disappointed.

Mr. SCOTT CAMPBELL: I really thought that we were going to be able to get married today. And I think, you know, with another temporary week-long stay, it gives the opposition plenty of chance to get a permanent stay with the 9th Circuit Court.

GONZALES: And that's exactly what Prop 8 supporters plan to do, ask the appeals court for a permanent stay that will keep the marriage ban in effect.

For now, they are just as unhappy as the gay couples planning to get married. Douglas Napier is a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that supports Prop 8.

Mr. DOUGLAS NAPIER (Lawyer, Alliance Defense Fund): You know, a single judge in San Francisco, at the lowest rung on the judicial ladder, ought to recognize this is going to go up on appeal, and he ought to allow that to go forward before he opens up Pandora's Box and creates chaos in California or anywhere else in the United States.

GONZALES: Napier says it makes no sense to allow gay marriages to proceed next week, given the uncertainty over their long-term legality, especially since the appeals court could reverse Judge Walker, says Napier.

(Soundbite of crowd talking)

At San Francisco city hall where a dozen gay couples and their families had lined up hoping to tie the knot, people tried to remain optimistic. They are promising to turn out in force next week to get married on August 18th, if they can.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco.

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