AG Brown, Schwarzenegger call for same-sex weddings

Two hands embrace in front of a rainbow flag. File photo.
Two hands embrace in front of a rainbow flag. File photo.
Jose Cabezas / AFP

SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed motions Friday calling for resumption of same-sex weddings in the state.

Schwarzenegger today urged the federal judge who struck down California's Proposition 8 to let gay men and lesbians resume marrying right away.

In a letter from his attorney, Schwarzenegger told federal District Judge Vaughn Walker that allowing same sex marriages to resume "is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect."

Earlier this week Walker ruled that Proposition 8 — California's voter approved ban on same sex marriage— is unconstitutional.

Supporters of Prop 8 have asked the judge to stay his ruling while they appeal it to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys have until midnight to file legal arguments for and against a stay. It's unclear when Judge Walker will rule on the motion for a stay.

Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Jerry Brown had refused to defend the measure in court.

Brown, a candidate for governor, said that ruling means it's time for gays to begin marrying again.

"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 this court's conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence, that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional," Brown said in his legal filing.

It was unclear when Walker would issue a ruling on the possible resumption of same-sex marriages.

The outcome in the appeals court could force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of whether gays have a constitutional right to wed.

Currently, same-sex couples can legally wed only in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

California voters passed Proposition 8 five months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples already had tied the knot.

Walker presided over a 13-day trial earlier this year that was the first in federal court to examine if states can prohibit gays from getting married without violating the constitutional guarantee of equality.

Supporters argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing.

Opponents said that tradition or fears of harm to heterosexual unions were legally insufficient grounds to discriminate against gay couples.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.