bbc news imageNo matter which way it goes with Proposition 8, in elections and court rulings, some group is going to be very upset. But after the latest decision Thursday, nobody’s happy. What’s going on in California?

Tension was high Thursday morning on the courthouse steps as everyone, on both sides of the gay marriage battle, waited for Judge Vaughn Walker to decide whether he would continue the stay on his controversial ruling or not, while it goes through the appeals process. He decided not.

US District Judge Vaughn Walker refused Thursday to extend a stay – placed on his ruling that declared California’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional – beyond next week.

The decision clears the way for same-sex marriages to begin again in California on Aug. 18, barring intervention from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Everyone is on edge because this is a decisive social, legal and cultural turning point.

The high-profile case is being watched closely by supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could result in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry others of the same sex.

This is surreal. Some things aren’t relative to cultural lurches like this.

Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, decried the August 4 decision of a federal judge to overturn California voters’ 2008  initiative that protected marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of any society. The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good,” Cardinal George said. “It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.”

Joining Cardinal George in his criticism of the court decision was Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage. Archbishop Kurtz noted that “Citizens of this nation have uniformly voted to uphold the understanding of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in every jurisdiction where the issue has been on the ballot.  This understanding is neither irrational nor unlawful,” he said. “Marriage is more fundamental and essential to the well being of society than perhaps any other institution. It is simply unimaginable that the court could now claim a conflict between marriage and the Constitution.”

And equally unimaginable that bishops of the Church are at the point where they have to appeal to reason with comments like ‘the understanding of marriage as a union of one man and one woman’ “is neither irrational nor unlawful.” That’s no longer given. It’s under urgent appeal.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....