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Gay marriages could resume Thursday if judge lifts stay in Prop. 8 case

August 12, 2010 |  6:51 am

Gay marriages in California could resume as early as Thursday if a judge lifts the stay to his decision to invalidate Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage in California.

Local officials said they have been waiting for the decision before deciding whether to start issuing marriage licenses again.

U.S. District Court in San Francisco has announced that Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker will issue his decision on a stay in the Proposition 8 case before noon. Walker ruled last week that Proposition 8 violated federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

In response to a request by Proposition 8's sponsors, Walker granted a temporary stay of his ruling and permitted all the parties to argue whether he should postpone the effect of his ruling permanently.

Foes of gay marriage want the stay extended -- saying they will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.



But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown joined the challengers of Proposition 8 in urging Walker to reject a request to put his decision on hold pending appeals.

Schwarzenegger said the state was well-equipped to handle the marriages of gays and pointed to the fact that an estimated 18,000 gay couples were wed in California before Proposition 8 passed.

"Government officials can resume issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty,”  Schwarzenegger’s office said in written arguments to the court.

The governor called Walker’s repudiation of Proposition 8 "consistent with California’s long history of leading the way in recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian families to order their relationships and manage their day-to-day lives."

Brown also told Walker that possible administrative difficulties should not be used as an excuse for denying gays the right to wed. Brown said his office last year opposed a pretrial request to block Proposition 8 only because the legal and factual issues had not yet been explored.

"That has now occurred," Brown's office said. " And while there is still the potential for limited administrative burdens should future marriages of same-sex couples be later declared invalid, these potential burdens are outweighed" by the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

-- Maura Dolan and Shelby Grad