Los Angeles Times: With same-sex marriage on hold, elderly and ailing couples face a lengthy appeals process
The clock is ticking for Derence & Ed since Ed was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Their story is a painful reminder that waiting to get married not an option for some couples. They recorded a video for the Courage Campaign’s Testimony: Equality on Trial project and today their story is featured in the Los Angeles Times.
Ed Watson, left, and Derence Kernek of Palm Springs have been together for more than 40 years. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
With same-sex marriage on hold, elderly and ailing couples face a lengthy appeals process
Judges last week extended a stay on same-sex marriage until higher courts rule on Prop. 8. Derence Kernek and Ed Watson hope that process will move faster than the advance of Watson’s Alzheimer’s disease.
A federal appeals court ruled last week that same-sex marriage will remain on hold in California until a judge’s ruling striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional makes its way through the higher courts — reviews expected to take a year or more.
“We don’t have the money to travel to a state where it’s legal,” said Kernek, 80, observing dejectedly that the travel would probably be too grueling for his partner of 40 years. “Besides, we wanted to do it in California, where our friends are, where we live. Now I don’t think we’ll be able to, not while Ed can still remember.”
The ticking clock on Watson’s awareness was one of a chronicle of arguments presented to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in an unsuccessful bid to convey the urgency of letting same-sex marriage resume during the protracted appeals process.
A 9th Circuit panel made up of Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and N. Randy Smith denied the request Wednesday without explanation.
Proposition 8 proponents had argued that the voter initiative’s restriction of marriage to one man and one woman should remain in place pending the appeal. They said the stay was necessary to avert social chaos if, as they insist is likely, the courts decide that the voters of California had the right to outlaw same-sex marriage.
The Aug. 4 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional buoyed hopes across the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities that their rights to marry and raise families would eventually earn full legal recognition.
But for some, including Kernek and Watson, “eventually” could come too late.
In response to an online appeal by the Hollywood-based Courage Campaign for testimony to back the legal challenge of Proposition 8 and other gay-rights litigation, more than 3,000 couples came forward with their stories about why they believe marriage can’t wait.
“Life is not eternal — sometimes it is tragically short — and courts should not act as if it were otherwise,” said Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and a key strategist in the legal campaign to scuttle Proposition 8.