Supporters of Proposition 8 have filed an official notice of appeal of Wednesday's ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that struck
down California's ban on same-sex marriage.
The notice of appeal was filed by the initiative's sponsors minutes after U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued the ruling Wednesday. It was posted on the court's electronic docket today.
The appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco could take months.
Walker, ruling in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples, said the voter-approved initiative violated the U. S. Constitution's guarantees of
due process and equal protection.
Walker suspended the ruling at least until Friday, while he considers whether to grant a long-term stay during the appeal.
Late Wednesday, Charles Cooper, the chief lawyer for Proposition 8, issued a statement saying Walker's ruling "sweeps away...the historical
understanding of marriage."
In his ruling Wednesday, Walker wrote, "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."
Walker issued his 136-page ruling after holding a 13-day nonjury trial in January on a lawsuit filed last year by two same-sex couples.
The proceeding was the nation's first federal trial on a state ban on same-sex marriage. The case could eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Proposition 8 was enacted by a majority of 52 percent of state voters in November 2008 and provided that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
The initiative was defended at the trial by its sponsors and their campaign committee, ProtectMarriage.com.
The two couples' lead attorneys, Theodore Olson and David Boies, said the ruling affirmed a fundamental right to marriage found by the U.S. Supreme Court in other types of cases.
Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, said, "This decision recognizes that Proposition 8 denied the plaintiffs, and tens of thousands of other Californians, that fundamental constitutional right and treated them unequally."
But Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, said they expect to win on appeal.
"Wednesday's ruling is clearly a disappointment," Pugno said. "But this is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage. We are confident that the trial court record we built will help us ultimately prevail on appeal and reverse Wednesday's ruling."
Meanwhile, two couples who challenged Proposition 8, California's voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage, joined their attorneys and other supporters in San Francisco Wednesday to voice their approval shortly after a federal judge overturned the initiative.
Berkeley resident Kris Perry, who joined her partner Sandy Stier as one of the two couples who challenged the initiative, said the "system worked" with Walker's ruling.
"Our courts are supposed to protect our constitutional rights, and Wednesday they did," Perry said. "Wednesday every American should be proud."
Stier added, "Wednesday we can go to sleep knowing that our hopes and our dreams to...have a legal marriage can be realized and are close to becoming true."
The proponents of Prop. 8 and their campaign committee, ProtectMarriage.com, asked for a stay of the ruling in a filing late Tuesday while they appeal Walker's decision.
The lawyers for the two couples have until Friday to respond to the request. If Walker declines to continue the stay, Prop. 8 supporters can ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a stay while the case is appealed. The appeal could take months and could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jeff Zarrillo, of Burbank, who joined his partner Paul Katami as the other couple in the case, said, "We understand that this decision is only the beginning."
The lead attorneys for the couples were Ted Olson and David Boies, who were on opposite sides of a legal battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore over the results of the 2000 presidential election but joined forces in representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.
Boies joked that if the case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, "Ted and I have a deal that he's going to get the five justices that voted for him, and I'll get the four that voted for me."
Boies added that the judge in this case made it clear that, "The fundamental right to marry is already set in a handful of Supreme Court precedents."
Olson said the legal team will argue against the stay but declined to guess when or where the case will finally be decided.
Several hundred people marched from San Francisco's Castro District to City Hall Wednesday night to celebrate a federal judge's ruling that California's voter-enacted ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Wednesday that Proposition 8, the November 2008 initiative that banned gay marriage in the state, violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process.
The marchers gathered at Market and Castro streets at about 6 p.m., a police spokesman said, and were led by police escort up Market Street. They reached City Hall at about 7 p.m.
Members of the crowd carried giant rainbow flags and signs that read, "Everyone deserves the right to marry." A truck drove alongside the procession playing the Queen song "We are the Champions" over loudspeakers. Police spokesman Officer Samson Chan said police would continue to monitor the crowd at City Hall.
"So far we've had no issues," he said. "It's more of a celebratory mood."
Proposition 8, approved by California voters as a state constitutional amendment, provided that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Two same-sex couples, including one from Berkeley, opposed the initiative this year in the nation's first federal court trial challenging a state ban on same-sex marriage under the U.S. Constitution. Walker heard evidence in the nonjury trial in January, and closing arguments were presented in June.
Various opponents of same-sex marriage released statements Wednesday decrying the ruling, including Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.
"With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman," he said. "This ruling, if allowed to stand, threatens not only
Prop. 8 in California but the laws in 45 other states that define marriage as one man and one woman."
Others, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger, praised Walker's ruling Wednesday.
"For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves," Schwarzenegger said.
Tears and Champagne followed a federal judge's ruling Wednesday that overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage as locals celebrated in San Francisco's Castro District.
"There was a big 'whoopee'," said Dave Thompson, a bartender at the Twin Peaks Tavern, one of the area's oldest gay bars.
Thompson joined in celebrating with bar patrons because he felt his own marriage to another man has now been "secured," he said. His marriage was first voided in 2004 and invalidated a second time by Proposition 8 in 2008 after he remarried the same man.
"My brother said once we 'got it all figured out in California' he'd come with my brothers, but my family still didn't come to the 2008 reception because of Proposition 8," said Thompson, whose six heterosexual brothers live in Massachusetts.
Jane Fox, a San Francisco resident of 23 years, said she approves of the ruling despite having no interest in marriage.
"I've been married twice to men, twice to women and never want to marry again, but I don't believe queers should be a minority," Fox said. "It should just be a complete non-issue."
Castro District locals still expressed concern that Wednesday's decision would not lead to legal homosexual marriage.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Jim Therriault, who has lived in San Francisco for 34 years. "But the decision still has to go before the Supreme Court and it can still be overturned."