California same-sex marriages 'can resume' next week

Image caption, Supporters in California celebrated a ruling last week that overturned the state's gay marriage ban

A US judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban has ruled gay nuptials may resume on 18 August.

Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the ban, known as Proposition 8, last week. Its proponents asked for a stay pending their appeal against his ruling.

His latest decision follows calls from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General Jerry Brown for gay weddings to resume.

The measure had been passed by voters in the state in 2008.

Judge Walker overturned Proposition 8 in a 136-page decision, saying it unconstitutionally discriminated against same-sex couples who sought to wed.

Supporters of the ban, who argue it was created to protect the traditional idea of marriage, were quick to file an appeal against that decision.

At first Judge Walker suspended the resumption of same-sex marriages until he could hear arguments on whether to stay the ruling.

But on Thursday he ruled: "Defendants and all persons under their control or supervision shall cease to apply or enforce Proposition 8" on 18 August at 1700 local time (0000 GMT).

Judge Walker found ban proponents have little chance to succeed on appeal, in part because the state of California has not indicated it will join the appeal and the ban proponents would have to argue they have their own standing to pursue one.

Additionally, he said the proponents failed to show they would be irreparably injured if same-sex marriages are allowed to take place pending appeal.

Rights 'violated'

The 2008 ballot measure, which came only months after the California Supreme Court legalised same-sex unions, amended the state's constitution to say that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California".

It was passed in a ballot referendum by a vote of 52% to 48%.

Two same-sex couples originally challenged the measure, saying it breached their right to equal protection under the US constitution.

They said the ban violated gays' and lesbians' right to choose whom to marry while allowing that right to heterosexuals.

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