According to press reports, sometime after noon today (Eastern time), Judge Vaughn Walker will rule on whether to lift the stay on his decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, allowing California to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The judge concluded last week, in declaring Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, that “California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians.” Lifting the stay would put that conclusion into action, ending the enforcement of a discriminatory and unconstitutional law and once again treating same-sex couples as full citizens of California.
Whatever Judge Walker decides today, there are many steps left – and a lot of unanswered questions – in this case. Prop 8 supporters can appeal the stay decision to the Ninth Circuit, which could issue its own stay and stop marriage licenses from being issued. So even if marriages begin again today, it may not last for long and their legality may remain in question. Also, wasting no time in trying to undo Judge Walker’s historic decision, supporters of Prop 8 have already filed their appeal of the entire case with the Ninth Circuit.
Same-sex couples in California deserve their equality and they deserve it now. But no matter if the stay is maintained or lifted today, the ability of same-sex couples to marry, and the legal status of any marriages that may happen, will remain somewhat uncertain.