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Proposition 8 opponents urge federal court to lift order preventing gays from marrying

February 23, 2011 | 10:43 am

Lawyers challenging Proposition 8 urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to lift an order preventing gays from marrying and called on the California Supreme Court to speed up its review of a key issue in the case.

The legal team trying to overturn the 2008 ballot measure asked the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to lift its hold on a federal district court judge’s order declaring the ban on gay nuptials unconstitutional. The request is considered a long shot.

The challengers asked that the stay be removed on the grounds that the California Supreme Court is going to delay the case roughly another year and that even President Obama has said bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional.

The attempt to place pressure on the judges comes as the state’s high court considers whether initiative sponsors are entitled to defend a ballot measure when state officials refuse to do so. California officials declined to appeal the ruling last August by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturning the measure.

The sponsors of Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage, did appeal, but the 9th Circuit has said it was uncertain whether they had the legal right to do so.

The 9th Circuit asked the state court to rule on the so-called “standing” question as it considers Walker’s ruling. But the involvement of the state court is expected to delay a decision in the case for many months.

The California court has said it would hold a hearing “as early as September,” which would delay a ruling until the end of the year. The state high court does not hold arguments in July or August. But lawyers fighting Proposition 8 say that gay men and lesbians are being hurt every day a decision in the case is delayed.

RELATED:

California Supreme Court will decide key issue in same-sex-marriage legal fight

-- Maura Dolan

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