California gears up for ruling on same-sex marriageBy the CNN Wire StaffSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
(CNN) — A federal judge in California is expected to issue his ruling Wednesday on whether the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The closely-watched case, to be decided by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, comes some two years after Californians voted to pass Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Wednesday’s ruling, expected in the early afternoon, will decide whether that ban violates the U.S. Constitution by creating separate classes of people with different laws for each.
Though stakes in the case are high, neither opponents nor supporters of same-sex marriage say Walker’s ruling will likely be the last. Both sides say the decision will be appealed and eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We have little doubt that this trial judge is going to knock down Prop. 8. I hope I’m proven wrong tomorrow,” said Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. “This has been a judge that looks pretty eager to make a historic decision.”
She added Walker’s ruling will likely have national implications as he is a federal judge.
Rick Jacobs, founder of the Campaign Courage, which supports same-sex marriage, said he was hopeful about Wednesday’s decision because of what happened during the trial.
“I can only say that based on the evidence in the trial, it is absolutely clear that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will strengthen families and the nation,” he said on Tuesday. “No matter how the judge rules tomorrow, we’ve already won a significant victory because the other side admitted they have no argument.”
Jacobs said if the case is appealed, it would go next to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before possibly heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is expected to set legal precedent that would result in a landmark decision that could settle whether people in the United States can marry people of the same sex.
Both sides have separately filed requests for a stay from having the ruling go into effect, if they lose the case. Motions were filed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, asking Judge Walker to rule on the stay request at the same time the ruling is released. Proposition 8 supporters in particular are concerned same-sex marriages could be performed before the judge issues any stay. Under court rules, there may be as much as a month’s delay before the judge might act on such a stay request. If the judge denies a stay request, the losing side can quickly appeal to the 9th Circuit.
Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, along with Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami, are the two couples at the heart of the case. They had asked Walker to issue an injunction against Proposition 8′s enforcement.
Proposition 8 is part of a long line of seesaw rulings, court cases, debates and protests in California over the contentious issue of same-sex marriage. It passed with some 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.
“Whatever happens tomorrow (Wednesday) is the beginning — not the end,” said Jacobs.
Attack kills senior Pakistani security officerBy the CNN Wire StaffSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
- The head of the Frontier Constabulary died in a suicide bombing attack in Peshawar
- His car was stopped at a traffic light when the attack occurred
- In Karachi, the death toll rose to 57 in violence stemming from the killing of a lawmaker
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — A suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden jacket killed at least three people, including a key security official, in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar Wednesday.
Among the dead was Sifwat Ghayour, commander of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary, said Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a provincial government official. Ghayour had just left his office and his car was stopped at a traffic light when the attack occurred.
The Frontier Constabulary is spearheading the fight against Islamic militants in the northwestern frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is supported by the United States.
In southern Pakistan, the death toll rose Wednesday to 57 in widespread violence that broke out after the killing of a provincial lawmaker.
The number of wounded has also gone up — to 110, said Rafiq Gul, deputy superintendent of Karachi police.
Syed Raza Haider, a leader of the MQM party, was shot Monday evening at a mosque in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. Haider was attending the funeral of a relative, Gul said. The gunman also killed the politician’s bodyguard.
Haider’s death triggered political and ethnic violence in the city, as mobs set fire to vehicles and gunfire erupted. Gul said 48 vehicles, eight shops and several gas stations were set ablaze in the mayhem.
The MQM is part of the ruling coalition backing President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party.