Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls to immediately resume same-sex marriages in California. Attorney General Jerry Brown filed motions telling a federal judge it was the right thing to do. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban as unconstitutional. In his 136-page decision, Walker said gay marriages should begin immediately. But later Wednesday, he agreed to suspend weddings until he could consider legal arguments he ordered to be filed by Friday. Gay marriage antagonists demand to retain Proposition 8 in effect until their appeal of Walker’s ruling is decided by higher courts. They argued in court papers filed earlier this week that resuming gay marriage now would cause legal chaos if the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court eventually reverse Walker. The 9th Circuit received the case on Wednesday, hours after Walker issued his decision.
On Friday, Schwarzenegger and Brown were the first to weigh in on the issue and both urged an immediate resumption of gay marriage. Lawyers for two same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit that led to the landmark ruling were expected to file their arguments later Friday. It was unclear when the judge would issue a ruling on the possible resumption of same-sex marriages. The governor and attorney general almost always defend state laws when they are challenged. But in this case, both refused to participate in fighting the lawsuit that led Walker to overturn the ban. Brown is the Democratic nominee for governor on the November ballot and he previously called the ban unconstitutional. Schwarzenegger has been more circumspect on his Proposition 8 position and his motion to immediately resume gay marriage was his boldest pronouncement on the issue. “The administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California,” lawyers for Schwarzenegger said in the legal filing. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect.” Brown also said 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. 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 got married. 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.