FRANCISCO — Same-sex marriages began in California on Friday after a federal appeals court lifted a hold on a 2010 injunction.
The first wedding in San Francisco began at 4:45 p.m. At 4:10 p.m., a cheer went up in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda. Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, one of the two same-sex couples who sued, made their way from the city clerk’s office where they got their marriage license to the marble steps of City Hall, stopping for photographs.
Attorneys said they had no advance word that the 9thCircuit was going to lift the hold on the Proposition 8 ruling.
- Photo Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Speaking during a telephone press conference, Sandy Stier introduced “my beautiful wife” Kris Perry to reporters. They had married earlier at a ceremony in San Francisco City Hall.
“First we went to work, and then we got married,” Stier said. “Today was fantastic day.”
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were married by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Ted Boutrous, one of the lawyers in the federal lawsuit, confirmed that ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of the Proposition 8, still can ask for a rehearing within the 25-day waiting period. Even though the Supreme Court decision is not technically final, the 9th Circuit was free to lift the hold on the injunction, he said.
He said he has seen federal appeals courts take similar actions in other cases before a Supreme Court decision was technically final.
“It was a great move by the 9th Circuit and totally authorized by the courts rules and the federal rules,” Boutrous said.
Boutrous insisted that the Supreme Court could not issue another stay to stop the marriages and said the legal team was not worried that ProtectMarriage would persuade a state judge or a federal judge to narrow the scope of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s order.
“The federal injunction trumps anything anyone can do it state court,” Boutrous said. “I think it would be frivolous…. They should hang it up and quit trying to stop people from getting married.”
In a surprise action, a federal appeals court cleared the way, bypassing a normal waiting period and lifting a hold on a trial judge’s order that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
The news came in a single, legalistic sentence Friday afternoon from the appeals court.
“The stay in the above matter is dissolved immediately,” the three-judge panel wrote.
Gov. Jerry Brown told county clerks that they could begin marrying same-sex couples immediately, launching plans for ceremonies up and down the state. The same-sex couples who filed the federal lawsuit headed to city halls in Los Angeles and San Francisco to tie the knot, ending their long fight to become legal spouses.
“It couldn’t come a moment too soon,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sparked the legal effort for gay marriage in California when he was San Francisco mayor.
“What extraordinary timing, right before [gay] pride weekend,” Newsom said. “All that time, all the struggle and the moment has arrived.”
Supporters of Proposition 8 were furious that the 9th Circuit acted before the normal waiting period. ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of the ballot measure, have 25 days from the ruling to ask for reconsideration.
“It is part and parcel of the utter lawlessness in which this whole case has been prosecuted, said Chapman law professor John Eastman, a supporter of Proposition 8. “Normally courts let the parties kind of pursue their legal remedies before they issue a mandate.”
He said that the 25-day period for asking the Supreme Court to reconsider still applied and that a rehearing, though extremely unlikely, remained a technical possibility.