Marriage equality put on hold in California

MARRIAGE EQUALITY PUT ON HOLD IN CALIFORNIA…. Two weeks ago, Federal Judge Vaughn Walker declared California’s Proposition 8, banning marriage equality in the state, to be unconstitutional. Last week, he lifted a stay, clearing the way for same-sex couples to legally wed as of tomorrow afternoon.

There was always the possibility that the 9th Circuit of Appeals, due to hear the case, would extend a stay as the case proceeds. Late yesterday, the appeals bench did just that.

California’s ban on same-sex marriages will remain in place until at least December, an appeals court ruled Monday, dashing the hopes of hundreds of couples who had hoped to wed as soon as Wednesday. […]

Supporters of the law appealed Walker’s finding to the 9th Circuit, and the appeals court ruled Monday that Proposition 8 could remain in effect while it considers the case. It indicated that it will act relatively swiftly on the appeal, setting a hearing for early December — a schedule that pleased those challenging the measure. But it will not come soon enough for the gay and lesbian couples who were already making plans to exchange vows at city halls around the state this week.

This will, no doubt, be deeply disappointing to couples whose rights are being denied. That said, yesterday’s move shouldn’t be interpreted as a hint about the eventual outcome — issuing a stay doesn’t mean the appeals bench will reverse the lower court’s ruling on the case.

Indeed, the three-judge panel that extended the stay yesterday won’t even be the same three-judge panel that will hear the appeal.

One more thing to keep an eye on here. Ben Smith notes that in its order, the 9th Circuit warned that “it’s considering dismissing the appeal on the grounds that the appellants — who don’t include the Governor or Attorney General — lack standing.”

Yesterday’s order said, “In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing.”

Stay tuned.