Politics & Government

Prop 8 judge could hold off longer on enforcing decision

Challengers to Proposition 8 must submit arguments by Friday for going ahead and lifting California's same-sex marriage ban, but federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker — who found the measure unconstitutional — may take additional time to decide whether to keep a temporary stay on his judgment in place.

"The judge could rule one way or another tomorrow, or he could take more time into next week," Theodore J. Boutrous, one of the attorneys who challenged California's gay-marriage ban told The Bee today. "We're geared up for whatever happens."

"Today we're having a good morning after," the Los Angeles-based Boutrous said.

Meanwhile, attorneys defending Proposition 8 filed an appeal today, as they had planned, with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Walker, a U.S. District Court chief judge in San Francisco, issued a temporary stay Wednesday against his own judgment striking down Proposition 8. He issued the stay shortly after ruling that Proposition 8 violates gay people's federal constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

The measure, which 52 percent of voters approved in 2008, amends California's constitution to declare that marriage is only between a man and a woman. In his ruling, Walker ordered an end to government enforcement of Proposition 8.

In anticipation of Walker's decision, attorneys defending Proposition 8 went ahead Tuesday, the day before the decision, and asked the judge to stay, or suspend, his own decision should he rule against the measure. The measure's attorneys are seeking a permanent stay while the case goes through the legal appeals process.

On Wednesday, Walker agreed only to a temporary stay until he reviews arguments from both sides. If Walker rejects a permanent stay, Proposition 8 attorneys will ask for one from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We'll even go up to the U.S. Supreme Court to get a stay," said Austin Nimocks, attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona group that helped defend Proposition 8 before Walker.

The request for a stay filed by Nimocks' group and other attorneys argues that they think they have a strong chance of winning on appeal, and that if same-sex marriages are allowed to take place they "would be licensed under a cloud of uncertainty."

Boutrous said the plaintiffs' attorneys will argue that as long as Proposition 8 remains in place, "our clients' rights are injured every day."

Follow this story at SacBee.com

Related stories from McClatchy DC