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When will the marriage hoopla start up again?

We’ll find out on August 6. If Judge Walker decides to stay the effect of his ruling until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold or invalidate it: no weddings. But if he decides to put the ruling into effect immediately, it will mean another round of weddings like the ones in 2004 (which were invalidated) and 2008 (which are still legally recognized).

Is there a chance that the Ninth Circuit Court will reverse Walker’s decision?

It’s possible but unlikely. The appeal will be studied by a panel of three randomly selected judges. But the Ninth Circuit Court has a reputation as the most liberal in the country, so much so that a lot of talk was thrown around about breaking it up during the Bush administration. Even if it did reverse Walker’s ruling, the case can still go to the Supreme Court.

What will the Supreme Court decide?

That’s a nail-biter. David Boies and Theodore Olson have both argued before the Supreme Court (they notoriously argued opposing sides in Bush v. Gore). There will likely be four solid votes against overturning Proposition 8: Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts. Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen as the critical swing vote.

In both Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans he ruled in favor of equal status under the law regardless of romantic proclivity. But he’s also a practicing Catholic, and this is a big case — Roe v. Wade big. It’s possible that the Supreme Court’s ruling could just grant equal marriage rights to the states under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, but it could also apply those rights to the entire country.

There are those who worry that this case will be another Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court ruling that made it legal for any state to outlaw gay sex. It took 17 years to get another case (the aforementioned Lawrence v. Texas) before the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.

But we should still be excited, right?

How could we not be? There’s no part of this saga that isn’t heartbreaking and fascinating and romantic. This is history in the making.

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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