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Top officials in California urge judge to allow same-sex marriage

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Atty. Gen. calls for same-sex weddings
  • Governor and attorney general say enforcement of Proposition 8 is not in the public interest
  • Defendants in the case have asked for a stay pending appeal
  • The judge could make his decision as early as next week
  • If he lifts the stay, California could start issuing same-sex marriage licenses immediately

(CNN) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked a federal judge Friday to allow same-sex marriages while an appeal over the struck-down law that banned them makes its way through the courts.

Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed briefs two days after Chief U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.

In his Wednesday ruling, Walker also issued a temporary stay, which stopped his decision from taking effect.

If he lifts his stay, officials in California could immediately be allowed to perform same-sex marriages again. They were able to do so, briefly, before the Proposition 8 ban passed in 2008.

"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," read the brief from Schwarzenegger. "Doing so is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect."

Supporters of Proposition 8 argued, prior to Walker's ruling, that same-sex marriages would be performed soon after he issued his opinion and could be complicated by rulings and appeals down the road. They asked the judge to stay his decision pending appeal.

The case goes next to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and both sides say it is sure to wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Walker could issue his decision on the stay as early as next week.

Video: Same-sex supporters optimistic

Brown, a Democrat who is running to replace Schwarzenegger, also weighed in on the controversial case.

"As this Court has concluded that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, the public interest weighs against its continued enforcement," read the brief from Brown.

Brown's opponent in the governor's race, Meg Whitman, told reporters before Walker's ruling she is against same-sex marriage but favors civil unions, according to the Associated Press. The news agency reported Whitman, a Presbyterian, has explained her vote for Proposition 8 as one of "faith and conscience."

"I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman," the AP reported Whitman said at a campaign stop in East Los Angeles.

Proposition 8 is part of a long line of seesaw rulings, court cases, debates and protests over same-sex marriage. It passed in California with some 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five U.S. states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire -- and in the District of Columbia, while civil unions are permitted in New Jersey.