The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 Tuesday in California. That's a very good thing. But don't rush off to get married quite yet...
Although the judges ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, they also said that the ban on same-sex marriage will remain in effect until the deadline has passed for Prop 8 supporters to file an appeal, which they are likely to do. That means that the legality of gay marriage will remain in limbo indefinitely -- unless the case goes to the Supreme Court for a final decision.
In other words, there's no news... the fight continues. All those 18,000 same-sex couples who legally married in California in 2008 remain legally married. And any other same-sex couple in California who wants to legally marry still cannot.
In fact, I am currently planning the gay wedding of two California couples who are traveling to New York to legally marry, and I have planned the weddings of about a dozen California LGBT couples since Prop 8 was passed in 2008. On August 4, 2010, the day the first ruling on the challenge to Prop 8 was issued, by Judge Vaughn Walker, I was running the wedding of two grooms from Walnut Creek, California. At some point, these couples just don't feel like waiting anymore for the majority to decide the fate of the minority.
There seems to be this feeling of resignation with the same-sex couples I've worked with from California. The prevailing feeling is not one of optimism that this latest ruling will have any impact on their day to day lives -- that's why they are spending their wedding dollars in other states. Just about everyone seems convinced that the Prop 8 case will eventually find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and be settled once and for all there -- with a potentially huge ripple effect on other states.
This feeling of trepidation goes beyond California. Everything seems to indicate that Washington will be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage. But that didn't stop two brides from Seattle from recently booking one of our elopement packages and making plans to fly 3,000 miles to legally marry. The fight for marriage rights is, frankly, exhausting for many couples and at some point, many choose to get off the emotional roller coaster of politics and take control of their own destiny by marrying in a place where they are fully embraced.
Someday that right will be regained in California but for now, we'll take this victory and keep fighting.