Prop. 8 opponents hail ruling, await word on marriage 

click to enlarge Same-sex couple Jeff Tabaco and Thom Watson embrace during a demonstration outside of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 6, 2010 in San Francisco, California. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Same-sex couple Jeff Tabaco and Thom Watson embrace during a demonstration outside of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 6, 2010 in San Francisco, California.

Although supporters of same-sex marriage were jubilant after Tuesday’s federal appeals court decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, what most really wanted to know was when can marriages begin again in California.

A stay on new same-sex marriages remains in effect pending an appeal of Tuesday’s ruling, which could take months or years.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the earliest marriages could potentially begin again is 21 days after the decision, but he acknowledged it would be “very unlikely” the court would deny an extension of the stay.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens,” said Herrera, whose office took up the fight to defend same-sex marriage eight years ago.
“I have no doubt that the tide of history is on our side,” he said.

Prop 8 proponents promised Tuesday to appeal the ruling. There was no immediate word on whether they will ask to extend the stay, but that was expected.
Mayor Ed Lee said city officials were “getting ready” to begin issuing new marriage licenses. He said he’s asked the county clerk to contact other county clerks throughout the state to make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to the proper documentation and procedures.

“Your constitutional rights should not have to wait,” Lee said.

Earlier Tuesday, a crowd of about 100 same-sex marriage advocates gathered at the Ninth Circuit courthouse, and erupted in cheers when news of the decision was announced.

“We truly hope this will be the end to all appeals, and in a few months, once again the freedom to marry will be restored,” John Lewis, who in 2008 married his longtime partner Stuart Gaffney, told the crowd. Chants of “let our people wed” followed.

Gaffney and Lewis are one roughly 18,000 same-sex couples whose California marriages remain legal because they occurred before Prop. 8 took effect. But many thousands more are still waiting for the state to affirm their partnerships.

“We knew in our hearts that Proposition 8 violated the rule of love, but the Ninth Circuit today found that it violates the rule of law,” the 49-year-old Gaffney said. “For the couples who want to plan their wedding days, every day of waiting is hard, but we know that this brings us so much closer.”

Mila Pavlin, 33, who runs community programs for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, said she has seen firsthand how Proposition 8 has “marginalized” community members.

“It’s very important for us as a community that everyone be free, that you’re free to be who you are, and free to be a family,” Pavlin said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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