The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to allow Imperial County officials to defend Proposition 8 in court.

Imperial County Board of Supervisors and a deputy clerk sought to overturn an August ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who found the anti-gay marriage ballot measure to be unconstitutional.

Today's decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit shows that having proper legal standing to defend Proposition 8 continues to be a major hurdle for the ballot measure's proponents.

While things still need to be played out, if anti-gay marriage forces don't have the legal standing to defend Proposition 8, Vaughn's ruling may stand simply by that technicality, and gay marriage would be legal in California.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit has yet to rule on the standing of other parties seeking to be defendants for the appeal of Walker's decision.

California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state officials who would normally defend a ballot measure, refuse to go to bat for Proposition 8 in court, citing it as unconstitutional.

In response to today's ruling, American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Los Angeles-based gay rights group that spearheads the Proposition 8 federal lawsuit effort, held a press conference this afternoon with lawyer Ted Olson.

Olson, along with David Boies, represents the two gay couples who filed the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8.

Olson emphasized that every day Proposition 8 remains legal, the anti-gay marriage ballot measure inflicts “damage” on the gay community. As result, Olson said, the appeals process should move as quickly as possible.

Olson said he believed there was no upside in having the appeals process slow down.

“We're anxious to proceed promptly,” said Olson.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit is expected to hand down a ruling sometime this year on whether or not Walker's ruling stands.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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