Reporting Doug Sovern
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/BCN) – Lawyers for two same-sex couples are again asking a federal appeals court to allow gay marriage to resume in California while the court considers the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex unions.
The couples’ attorneys filed a motion on Wednesday asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Panel to lift the stay it imposed in September. That stay blocked a lower court ruling striking down the voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8.
The couples’ attorney, Theodore Olson, said the request was prompted by a delay created last week when the California Supreme Court said it needed the rest of the year to consider a pivotal legal question in the case.
The 9th Circuit has said it can’t move forward with its deliberations without that guidance from the state supreme court.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
That discrimination inflicts countless injuries every single day,” said Olson. “It is a badge of inferiority that cannot be hidden or suspended while this litigation goes forward.”
The second reason to lift the stay, according to the brief, is Wednesday’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the U.S. Justice Department will no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court.
The U.S. law requires that for federal government purposes, marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.
Olson said in a telephone news conference, “I think there are overpowering reasons. We hope the stay will be lifted promptly.”
Co-counsel David Boies said, “It is time to allow gay and lesbian citizens in California the same rights everyone else has.”
UC Davis law professor and associate dean Vik Amar said essentially, this means the government will no longer be able to deny federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
“It doesn’t mean that same sex marriage is necessarily going to be recognized in states where it’s not currently recognized, although this is a big step in that direction, because the federal government is now throwing its legal weight behind the theory that says it violates equal protection to discriminate against these couples,” said Amar.
The 9th Circuit has no deadline for acting on the request to lift the stay. A spokesman for the Proposition 8 sponsors was not immediately available for comment.
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