UPDATE 3-California gay marriage can resume next week-judge

* Ruling would allow same-sex weddings during appeal

* Decision gives time for appeals court to block it
(Adds filing of appeal, paragraph 4)

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 12 (BestGrowthStock) – A federal judge ruled on
Thursday that gay marriages could resume next week in
California while his landmark ruling last week that overturned
a ban on same-sex matrimony is appealed.

The order to allow gay marriage will take effect at 5 p.m.
PDT on Wednesday.

That will give an appeals court time to consider “in an
orderly manner” whether the voter-approved ban, known as
Proposition 8, should be left intact while appellate judges
weigh the merits of the overall case, U.S. District Court Chief
Judge Vaughn Walker ruled.

Late on Thursday, defenders of Proposition 8 filed papers
asking the appellate court to block same-sex marriages for the
duration of the broader appeal.

Both sides expect the case eventually to be appealed right
up to the U.S. Supreme Court, giving the California legal
battle national importance. The case against Prop 8 marks the
first major challenge in federal court to a state law barring
marriage between same-sex couples.

Gay rights advocates and civil libertarians have cast the
legal battle as a fight for equal rights, while opponents,
including many religious conservatives, see same-sex marriage
as a threat to the traditional family.

Thirty-nine U.S. states have laws explicitly prohibiting
gay marriage. Only five states — Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire — and the District of Columbia —
allow same-sex unions.

Thursday’s ruling left neither side completely happy.

San Francisco City Hall’s steps were lined with gay couples
hoping for a green light from Walker to wed and their

“I think they should have lifted the stay today,” said
James Olivera, 58, a gay marriage supporter.

“God’s holy law has been trampled on by one person,”
responded Viktor Choban, 27, a supporter of the ban.

Walker ruled last week that Prop 8 violated due-process and
equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

On Thursday, he wrote that proponents of the ban had failed
to show any irreparable harm that could arise from allowing gay
weddings to go forward while the matter is under appeal.

“Proponents had a full opportunity to provide evidence in
support of their position and nevertheless failed to present
even one credible witness on the government interest in
Proposition 8,” he wrote.


Walker’s decision to delay his ruling did not come as a
surprise, said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National
Center for Legal Rights.

“There’s both a political dimension here, and there’s a
human dimension,” Kendell said. “Walker certainly wants to
avoid any sort of stutter step when it comes to the ability of
people to marry and to do so with some certainty.”

A three-judge panel including two leading progressive
judges is likely to decide whether to keep the ban in place for
the year or more the appeal takes.

Charles Cooper, the lead trial attorney for
Protectmarriage.com, a supporter of Prop 8, said he expected
the appeals court to support voters behind the ban.

“The decision whether to redefine the institution of
marriage is for the people themselves to make, not a single
district court judge, especially without appellate scrutiny,”
he said in a statement.
(Reporting by Dan Levine, Courtney Hoffman, Jeremy Pelofsky,
Alexandria Sage and Steve Gorman; Writing by Peter Henderson;
Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)

UPDATE 3-California gay marriage can resume next week-judge