A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request from lawyers seeking to suspend enforcement of a California same-sex marriage ban.
During his first hearing on a federal challenge against Proposition 8, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said a preliminary injunction would create more uncertainty for the state and the status of new same-sex marriages.
At the same time, the judge added that he wants "to proceed directly and expeditiously" to a trial to determine whether the voter-approved amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman violates the U.S. Constitution.
"We are delighted that Judge Walker today refused to grant the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction designed to put Prop 8 on hold," said Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Proposition 8. "This decision allows Proposition 8 to stand as this court proceeding progresses. His action supports the desire of the people who voted to restore the definition of traditional marriage last November as being between and man and a woman."
Top litigators Theodore B. Olson and David Boies – who represented the opposing sides of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 – filed a lawsuit in federal court in May on behalf of two same-sex couples, arguing that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process of the law.
It was filed just before the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Proposition 8 – which was passed by 52 percent of voters last November.
Last week, California Chief Justice Ronald George told The Recorder that regardless of his personal views, the state court's ruling favoring Proposition 8 was "the only right thing to do."
"[I]n the Prop. 8 case, the court was honoring its obligation to uphold the people's will as expressed in their desire to amend the Constitution," George said in the interview.
On Tuesday, ProtectMarriage.com was granted the motion to intervene to defend Proposition 8 in federal court.
"This ruling designating us to defend Proposition 8 reflects the unfortunate fact that, if left up to state officials, the will of the people would not be defended at all," Pugno commented.
While attorneys representing Proposition 8 proponents see no need for a trial, Judge Walker said Thursday he wants to conduct a full trial to make a record of all the facts and findings surrounding the amendment before the case goes to a higher court.
"I am reasonably sure that, given the personalities in this courtroom, this case is only touching down in this court and it will have a life after this court," Walker said. "What happens here is in many ways a prelude to what happens later."
The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.