Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to lift the stay on his ruling striking down California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 is, fortunately, not the last word on whether same-sex couples in the Golden State will be able to obtain marriage licenses while this case is under appeal. The appropriate panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has until August 18 to act on the request by attorneys defending this state constitutional amendment for a stay pending the conclusion of the Prop 8 appeal.
In the interest of clarity and certainty about the law, the panel should promptly grant the defendants’ emergency request and keep current law in effect. Commentators on both sides of the policy debate over same-sex unions recognize the immense social impact Judge Walker’s ruling will have and the extraordinary degree of judicial activism it represents. There are powerful bases both for granting the stay and keeping this issue in the hands of the people and their elected representatives.