California’s attorney general asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the gay marriage ban while Proposition 8 is being decided.
Attorney General Kamala Harris urged the court to dismiss an order preventing gays and lesbians to wed in California until the Prop. 8 appeal is resolved. Taking a tone similar to President Barack Obama’s last week, she equated barring same-sex marriage with denying gays and lesbians equality under the law.
In a statement Tuesday, Harris said, “Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, moments have been missed, and justice has been denied."
Harris’ appeal adds weight to previous appeals to allow homosexuals to wed. Last month, Ted Olson, one of two attorneys representing same-sex couples in the suit against Prop. 8, asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court to lift the stay preventing gay marriage.
"Marriage is a fundamental right, and denial of that right stigmatizes gays and lesbians as second-class citizens," he reasoned.
Harris may have also been motivated by President Obama. Just last week, Obama came out against the federal law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, calling Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. After the president gave his executive order, Harris’ office released a statement endorsing his decision.
“I applaud the President and Attorney General's decision today to uphold the Constitution and to decline to defend the federal ban on same-sex marriage," she said.
Harris expressed that Obama's beliefs align with her own beliefs.
"It has long been my view that such a ban on same-sex marriage cannot be sustained under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she shared.
However, Austin Nimocks, the counsel representing Prop. 8 proponents, argues that there is nothing warranting the state to lift the stay.
Last year, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Prop. 8 – the amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that was passed in 2008 by 52 percent of California voters – was unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit Court later granted the motion to stay the ruling, thereby placing an indefinite hold on same-sex marriages.
The Circuit Court is currently at a standstill with the Prop. 8 appeals as it waits for the state’s Supreme Court to decide whether proponents of the 2008 referendum have the authority to defend it in court.