The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the Proposition 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzeneger, back to the California Supreme Court. In something that could potentially aid the marriage-equality side, the federal court said the state high court needs to decide if those against gay marriage equality have standing or not.
Just what the hell does this mean?
After Proposition 8 passed, one gay and one lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit against then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the right to marry. The district court ruled in their favor. Schwarzeneger and then California Attorney General (now Governor) Jerry Brown, supporters of marriage equality, accepted the decision and declined to appeal, and gay marriage was set to happen once again.
But the group Protect Marriage appealed anyway, saying they represent all the voters who passed Proposition 8. It is unclear, though, if such a group can step in when the actual defendants in the case didn’t want to appeal. The Ninth Circuit is not clear that they have standing under California law, and, unsure if they even have the jurisdiction to rule on such a case, has sent that question back to the California Supreme Court.
So in a marginal sense, this step puts Protect Marriage on the defense and seems to increase the likelihood that Prop 8 will not be able to stand if the losing side of Perry v. Schwarzeneger doesn’t want to appeal. But it’s also something of a wash and a disappointment to those LGBT Californians waiting to get married. As all gay and lesbian marriages have been put on hold until this case is resolved (which could take many more months to work its way through the California Supreme Court before possibly going back to the Ninth Circuity Court of Appeals and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court), don’t expect to see lavender wedding bells ringing in the Golden State anytime soon.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 5, 2011