The Los Angeles-based sponsor of the federal challenge to Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage lauded Tuesday's appellate ruling not to revisit the contentious case, clearing the way for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against reconsidering the February decision, in which a three-judge panel found the amendment to be unconstitutional, begins a 90-day period in which proponents of the ban can appeal to the Supreme Court.
"A majority of the panel has voted to deny the petition for rehearing en banc," according to the ruling, referring to the full 11-judge panel that was asked to reconsider the ruling.
The initial circuit panel that heard the California case ruled 2 to 1 against the voter-approved marriage ban, deciding it did little more than "lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians."
Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Equal Rights, sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to Prop. 8, applauded today's development.
"Today's order is yet another federal court victory for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in California and around the nation," said AFER co-founder Chad Griffin. "The final chapter of the Prop. 8 case has now begun. Should the U.S. Supreme Court decide to review the Ninth Circuit's decision in our case, I am confident that the justices will stand on the side of fairness and equality."
A stay on same-sex marriage in California is in place until the matter is decided.
The state law passed in November 2008 mandating the recognition of marriage in California only between a man and a woman.
Doug NeJaime, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said if the ruling against the ban is appealed to the nation's highest court, a decision would not be forthcoming until at least October.
"The Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on this," he said. "Now, we just have to wait and see."