Same-sex couples won't be able to get married in California on Friday. But it's possible that they could be free to marry, legally, by sometime next week.
We may know more after the U.S. Supreme Court meets Friday. The court is considering whether to hear a host of legal challenges that involve gay rights. One of those challenges is to a U.S. federal appeals court decision that overturned Prop 8, the California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
That appeals court decision was a narrow ruling that found that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. That would make same-sex marriage legal in California. But enforcement of the ruling has been on hold while Prop 8 supporters ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The court is scheduled to do that Friday.
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Many legal experts predict the court will decline to take the Prop 8 appeal. There are other legal challenges on gay rights issues that it may take up instead. If those experts are right, the federal appeals court decision will remain in place -- thus overturning Prop 8 and restoring legal same-sex marriage in the state.
It's not clear how long it will take the appeal court to mandate the restoration of same-sex marriage based on its previous ruling.
At least a few days is the likely answer. Advocates for same-sex marriage will demand speedy mandates, while some counties may want a little time to handle any administrative issues involving marriage licenses. But if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't act, it shouldn't be too long.
Because it has been more than four years since those five months in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal. And for many gay couples, the wait has already been too long.