Federal Judge Denies Motion to Stay Calif. Marriage Ruling

A federal judge has denied a motion to stay the judgment he made last week on California's Proposition 8, effectively allowing gay marriages to resume in the state starting next Wednesday.

In an 11-page ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker said proponents of the stay did not show a likelihood of success on appeal nor the possibility of any irreparable harm absent a stay.

"The first two factors are the 'most critical,'" Walker wrote in his ruling. "That alone suffices for the court to conclude that a stay is inappropriate here."

In considering the latter two of four factors, Walker concluded that a stay "would force California to continue to violate plaintiffs' constitutional rights and would demonstrably harm plaintiffs and other gays and lesbians in California."

He also said the evidence presented at trial and the anti-Prop. 8 positions of California's governor and attorney general show that an injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8 is in the public's interest.

"None of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay," he concluded.

That said, Walker ordered the temporary stay he issued to be lifted at 5 p.m. on Aug. 18, at which time Prop. 8 would be nullified unless ordered otherwise by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which has been defending California's Prop. 8, announced immediately after Walker's ruling that it would appeal to the 9th Circuit to stay the trial court's decision until the case is concluded.

"This case has just begun, and ADF and the rest of the legal team are confident that the right of Americans to protect marriage in their state constitutions will ultimately be upheld," remarked ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell.

"If the trial court's decision is eventually reversed, refusing to stay the decision will senselessly create legal uncertainty surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending," he added.

Prop. 8, which California voters passed in 2008, effectively defined marriage in the state's constitution as the union of one man and one woman.

Last week, however, Walker determined that people of the same sex do have the right to marry and that the decision of the majority to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman violates that right.

Notably, Prop. 8 was passed by 52 percent of California voters.

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