California starts performing same-sex marriages as opponents head back to court | News | DW | 29.06.2013
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California starts performing same-sex marriages as opponents head back to court

Two plaintiffs who fought to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban have tied the knot after a US appeals court lifted the voter-approved ban. Supporters of the ban have petitioned the high court in response.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the wedding of Kris Perry (right in photo) and Sandy Stier as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered on Friday.

The couple had sued to overturn the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, who married later Friday evening at the Los Angeles City Hall.

"By joining the case against Proposition 8, they represented thousands of couples like themselves in their fight for marriage equality," Harris, who had asked the appeals court to act swiftly, said during the brief ceremony. "Through the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs, they came out victorious."

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds addressed onlookers. "This is the first day of the rest of our lives together," Perry said.

Her bride, Stier, told those gathered at San Francisco City Hall: "Thank you so much for coming to our wedding."

Although the couple have long fought for equality, their wedding happened fast on Friday, just after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a stay imposed on gay marriages following a Supreme Court ruling.

America's top court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that Proposition 8's supporters lacked authority to defend the measure in court once Harris and Governor Jerry Brown, both Democrats, refused to support it.

The decision let stand an earlier trial judge's declaration that the ban, approved by voters in November 2008, violates civil rights. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court also ruled to extend federal benefits to all married couples.

Opponents respond

Supporters of the ban called the appeals court's action "outrageous" and petitioned the Supreme Court on Saturday to immediately halt gay marriages in California by reinstating the ban.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represent sponsors of the California voter-approved gay marriage ban, claimed in the petition that the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals acted prematurely and unfairly on Friday by overturning the ban.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks said the overturn was premature because the Supreme Court's consideration of the case was not complete, pointing out that his clients still have 22 days to ask the justices to reconsider their decision.

mkg, tm/ccp (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)