Same-sex couples planning to wed in California this week were dealt a blow Monday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed a lower court ruling overturning Proposition 8. The ruling means the state’s ban on gay and lesbian couples marrying remains in effect, at least until the court rules on an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker’s landmark decision to overturn the marriage ban. The court also put the case on a fast track and informed proponents of the ban that they must explain why they have legal standing to appeal. A Ninth Circuit panel will take up the case beginning the week of December 6.
Cecile Veillard, President of San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (S.A.M.E.), announced this week that SAME members and others in our community are rallying to the side of our friends Tyler & Tony Dylan-Hyde, and Michael Anderson & Brian Baumgardner, and anyone else wanting to get married on Thursday morning (August 19) at 8:00am to demand that the County Clerk issue the licenses entitled to them under California law once the stay on Judge Walker’s decision was to be lifted tonight at 5:00pm. But many may be confused about what S.A.M.E.’s real objective is—Do they really think we’re going to get these people married?
Veillard has received calls from people in the community who had the mistaken assumption that they are going in to the Clerk’s Office on Thursday with the intention and desire to get arrested by San Diego County Sheriffs. Certainly they are aware that by challenging the clerks to exercise a right that appears for some to still be in legal limbo means that authorities may feel entitled to arrest protesters for “disturbing the peace”, or some other ironically-named charge. And of course it is the case that getting arrested has resulted in needed attention for civil rights in the past and even in our present time. But it is not their objective to be arrested on Thursday afternoon. What they want is to force open the floodgates of civil rights for same-sex couples, so that our friends Tyler & Tony, and Brian & Michael and anyone else who wishes, can be allowed to get their licenses on that day.
Who says S.A.M.E. can? For them, the question is rather who says they can’t. Numerous sources have cited the fact that nowhere in the law does it specify that the Attorney General and Governor, who have emphatically refused to defend Prop 8, must be compelled to comply with a stay by a higher-circuit court while the opposition is given a chance to prove that they have the standing to make an appeal to Judge Walker’s decision. If anything, some legal precedent seems to indicate that the state of California has the right and duty to enforce its own laws while a court of appeals holds hearings to determine any standing by any parties opposing a legal decision.
When Prop 8 passed, same-sex marriages stopped immediately. There was no “stay” on the new ban, even while the ACLU pursued the case to challenge Prop 8’s constitutionality to the California Supreme Court (filed the very day after the passage of Prop 8, on November 5, 2008). It seems to S.A.M.E. that while the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) pursues its appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, our state’s clerks have no reason to continue to deny Californians their rights to equal protection under the law, and access to the same civil right to marriage. On the contrary, they should begin granting marriage licenses, as Judge Walker’s decision so clearly mandates, as soon as his stay was to be lifted on Thursday.
That’s why SAME members, and others in the community, are going in to the Clerk’s Office at 8:00am this Thursday: The objective is to persuade the clerks in San Diego and everywhere else in the state to comply with Judge Walker’s August 4th ruling, and begin issuing marriage licenses immediately. S.A.M.E. invites the community to join them; the bigger we are, the stronger. Let’s get Brian & Michael, and Tyler & Tony married, and let’s do it now. As has been repeated over and over in the last weeks, the opposition has been unable to provide any evidence that heterosexual couples are harmed by same-sex couples’ right to marry. So what are we waiting for?
In the words of SAME member Gabe Conaway last year, “We’re not here to break the law–but there’s a law here that’s breaking us.” Those of us going in tomorrow need your support. Join S.A.M.E. by RSVP’ing to their facebook event page. For details about sitting in with S.A.M.E., contact Michael Anderson at 954-648-1984.
If you can’t attend the sit-in, there are other ways you can help.
Courage Campaign is relaunching “It Breaks Your Heart” — a 60-second version of an online video they released last year that was viewed by more than 1.3 million people. Featuring the hit song “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor, the video’s message is crystal clear: fundamental civil rights should never be put up for a vote. Please watch “It Breaks Your Heart” now. Then join more than 700,000 other Courage Campaign members in taking the “1 Million for Marriage Equality” pledge today. It only takes one minute to watch the video and 10 seconds to sign the short pledge.
Freedom to Marry asks that you add your name in solidarity with Judge Walker’s decision, which powerfully showed there is no good reason for denying the freedom to marry to committed couples in California or throughout the country. Tell the nation “I’m helping to defeat Prop 8, and I’m going to work to win the freedom to marry in the 45 states that still exclude loving and committed same-sex couples from marriage.” Sign Up to Add Your Voice.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the legal team fighting to overturn Prop. 8, needs your help now more than ever. They will continue to fight this battle at the 9th Circuit and beyond. You can help them end institutionalized discrimination once and for all. Donate today and help them win the 9th Circuit Court.
EQCA PAC underscores that the LGBT community needs to work together to do what it takes to ensure a favorable outcome. Here’s what they suggest you can do:
- Email the Governor and Attorney General and urge them to stand strong against the attacks they are receiving from anti-LGBT groups.
- Make a donation to EQCA to elect a governor and attorney general who will refuse to defend Prop. 8 in court.
- Volunteer in your area with EQCA. We are building on the majority support we have, which is so critical to winning marriage back, either in the court or at the ballot box.