The authors of Proposition 8 denounced the immediate resumption of gay marriages in California after Friday's decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to greenlight same-sex weddings immediately.
Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage, the official proponents of Proposition 8, said the decision by the federal appeals court in San Francisco came without waiting for the Supreme Court's decision to become final -- which takes 25 days from the day of the judgment -- and deprived his group of "our right to ask for reconsideration."
"This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption," Pugno said in a statement.
"The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonorable fashion, they should be ashamed," he said.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris was officiating the first same-sex wedding in the state Friday afternoon, shortly after a federal appeals court cleared the path for gay weddings to resume.
Harris was scheduled at 4:45 p.m. to begin officiating the marriage of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a Berkeley couple who were two of the four plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case decided this week.
"About to marry the #Prop8 plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier. Wedding bells are ringing!" Harris tweeted Friday afternoon.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was expected to marry the other two plaintiffs in the case, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo of Burbank, at L.A. City Hall around 6:15 p.m.
A spokesman for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals originally said it would take the court at least 25 days to act after a Supreme Court ruling. Immediately afterward, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered his public health agency to advise the state's counties to "begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the 9th Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."
Opponents of same-sex marriage have argued that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision overturning Proposition 8 applied only to the two same-sex couples who challenged the ballot measure. But their enthusiasm for going to court to try to narrow the effect of the decision appeared to wane in the hours after the decision.
With Brown and Harris pledging to block Proposition 8 across California, the momentum for gay marriage was likely to hinder any further challenges.
California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008, six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that gays had the right to wed. The state high court later ruled that the initiative was a valid state constitutional amendment but upheld the validity of an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that occurred before the election.
The Supreme Court ruled that ProtectMarriage lacked legal authority or standing to appeal Walker's ruling blocking the ballot initiative. The high court said Proposition 8's sponsors were not directly affected by Walker's ruling. Only state officials had the right to appeal, and they refused. That procedural decision wiped out the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 ruling against Proposition 8, leaving only Walker's decision in place and affecting only California.
County clerks who preside over marriages said they were ready for same-sex weddings. Marriage licenses already are gender-neutral, and clerks began receiving calls Wednesday from gay couples wanting to schedule appointments.
Harris called on the 9th Circuit on Wednesday to lift its hold on Walker's ruling immediately. The attorney general said she believed that the appeals court had the authority to act quickly.