Judge Vaughn Walker just doubled down on upholding equal marriage rights: he issued an opinion today denying the "stay" (a legal delay) of his ruling overturning discriminatory Proposition 8, and ordered state officials to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses as of next Wednesday, August 18th!

The judge noted that the proponents of Prop 8 had failed to show that they were likely to succeed on appeal, and thus could not justify a stay of his decision that an ongoing injustice occurs each day that California denies its residents the opportunity for full equality and dignity.

Even more interesting? Judge Walker suggests that the proponents of Prop 8 may not even get their appeal heard. The proponents' case, at its heart, rests on the theory that there is a strong state interest in upholding opposite-sex marriage. However, there are some defendants who will be noticeably absent on appeal: the state of California and its officials. In fact, Governor Schwarzenegger and others have come out forcefully in favor of granting immediate marriage rights to all couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court has previously said that private groups (like the Prop 8 proponents) lack the right to uphold the constitutionality of state laws. We Nevadans saw that fight play out here in the Silver State when our Attorney General refused to challenge the federal health care bill on behalf of the state. So how will the Prop 8 proponents make the state's arguments - when the state isn't even willing to do so? That will be the next chapter in this fascinating saga, and Judge Walker indicates it may be the last.

See the opinion here.