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L.A. officials prepare for gay unions Aug. 18

August 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Prop 8 supporters are gearing up for the latest battle to stop same-sex marriages, but the weddings will resume in California next week if there is no further court action. Supporters of the same-sex marriage ban want to stop any marriages from taking place while the issue makes its way through the court system. They filed an emergency appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the appeals court does not take action, the same-sex marriage ban will be struck down Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. At that point, couples are expected to start lining up.

Los Angeles County offices generally close at 5 p.m., but the county said it will be offering extended hours so it could start issuing marriage licenses and make civil ceremonies available to couples who want to get married right away when the ban is lifted.

Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriages, was approved by 52 percent of the state's voters in 2008, but last week Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

On Thursday, the judge, who is openly gay, rejected a request to delay putting his order into effect until the appeals court ruled.

"So this is just a continuation of his judicial tyranny to destroy the will of the people and to impose the will of the minority upon the majority," said Don Grundmann, a Prop 8 supporter.

Legal experts said Prop 8 supporters might have a tough time making a case to block the weddings, because the judge's decision can only be appealed with the backing of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown.

"[Prop 8 supporters] may very well not have standing to intervene and ask the federal court. So it might be up to the governor, the attorney general to make the decision," said Stan Goldman, a Loyola Law School professor.

As of right now, Schwarzenegger and Brown have said they have no reason to oppose gay marriage.

Gay couples were happy with the judge's decision but disappointed about having to wait.

"Hang in there. It's going to happen.It's absolutely going to happen. The truth is on our side, history is on our side and now the law is on our side. It's just a matter of time," said Paul Katami a supporter of same-sex marriage and a plaintiff in the Prop 8 case.

West Hollywood officials said they have been getting hundreds of calls from couples eager to get married next week. They are hoping to deputize additional city workers to perform marriage ceremonies at city hall and Kings Road Park.

The city's mayor pro-tem said the city is talking with county officials to see if they can issue marriage licenses themselves when the ban is overturned.

"Windows of opportunity open, and then they close. It opens again, but we still have federal courts involved. It may close again, so I think a lot of couples want to take advantage of this moment," said West Hollywood Mayor Pro-Tem John Duran.


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