Lawyers challenging a California amendment that bans same-sex marriage have asked a federal appeals court to allow gay marriages to resume pending the outcome of the case.
The request was made Wednesday, a week after the California Supreme Court agreed to weigh in on the case against Proposition 8 and thus delay the case for roughly another year.
Ted Olson, one of two attorneys representing same-sex couples in the suit against Prop. 8, submitted that "further delay is intolerable" and asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
"Marriage is a fundamental right, and denial of that right stigmatizes gays and lesbians as second-class citizens," he argued.
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.
Austin Nimocks, a counsel representing Prop. 8 proponents, told KQED that the 9th Circuit was right to impose a stay and "there's nothing that's changed in the case ... that justifies lifting the stay."
The appeals court heard arguments in December but referred a pivotal question – whether the Prop. 8 proponents who are appealing have legal standing – in the case to the state high court in January.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to appeal, leaving Protectmarriage.com, which led the "Yes on 8" campaign, to defend the amendment.
The California Supreme Court said it needed the rest of the year to make a decision.
Attorneys Olson and David Boies have asked the high court to speed up its review and in the meantime to let gay couples marry.
Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, responded, "We really really see this (legal move by supporters of gay marriage) as an attempt to impose a redefinition of marriage on all of California by judicial fiat," according to Reuters.
The California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May 2008. Same-sex marriages came to a halt a few months later after the approval of Prop. 8 by voters. The high court upheld the amendment but did not void same-sex marriages that occurred between its 2008 ruling and the passage of Prop. 8.