SAN FRANCISCO – The federal judge who struck down California’s gay marriage ban said Thursday that same-sex weddings can resume next week unless an appeals court intervenes before then.
The news raised hopes among gay couples that they soon could tie the knot after years of agonizing delays.
“We just want equal rights. We’re tired of being second-class citizens,” said Amber Fox, 35, who went to the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on Thursday morning in hopes of marrying her partner. The couple wed in Massachusetts in June but wanted to make it official in their home state.
The Foxes left the courthouse without exchanging vows after the ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in a case many believe is destined for the Supreme Court.
Walker decided to give gay marriage opponents until next Wednesday to ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block same-sex weddings while it decides their appeal. If the appeals court chooses not to get involved, Walker said county clerks may begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Walker last week struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, saying that the voter-approved law is unconstitutional.
Charles J. Cooper, the lead counsel defending the ban, said Thursday that he intends to ask the 9th Circuit to block gay marriages from going forward.
“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,” Cooper said.
The delay disappointed dozens of same-sex couples around the state who had hoped to marry immediately.
“It’s sad that we have to wait a little longer, but it’s been six years,” said Teresa Rowe, 31, of Suisun City, who went to San Francisco’s City Hall on Thursday morning with her partner to fill out a marriage license application.
Scott Campbell, 41, and Scott Hall, 35, had to tell family members en route to the Beverly Hills courthouse for the ceremony to turn back. They vowed to return next week.
“We’re both very traditional. Our parents both gave their blessings,” Campbell said.