By Andy Goldberg.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on
Friday called on a judge to immediately authorize gay marriage in
The Republican governor and former movie star made the call in a
court filing on the fate of a court order that has delayed
implementation of a ruling reversing the ban on gay marriage.
Lifting the stay would permit gay couples to marry immediately in
California, precisely what Schwarzenegger argued for.
“The administration believes the public interest is best served by
permitting the court’s judgement 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.”
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a candidate for governor,
argued for immediate lifting of the stay.
“Proposition 8 is unconstitutional,” said Brown, referring to the
voter-approved initiative struck down by the court. “The public
interest weighs against its continued enforcement.”
Opponents of gay marriage are hoping that presiding Judge Vaughn
Walker extends the stay pending their appeal on his ruling Wednesday
that a ban on same-sex marriages in California is unconstitutional.
They filed a notice of appeal with the Ninth US Circuit Court of
Appeals in San Francisco Thursday. Walker’s ruling overturned a 2009
ruling by the California Supreme Court that upheld a statewide ballot
proposition from 2008 that reserved marriage for two people of the
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out
gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote
in a 136-page ruling.
He said the ballot measure “prevents California from fulfilling
its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal
The constitutional right to marry, Walker said, “protects an
individual’s choice of marital partner regardless of gender.” He
wrote that domestic partnerships in California, available to same-sex
couples, are a “substitute and inferior institution” lacking the
social meaning and cultural status of marriage.
The ruling will make California only the sixth state in the US to
permit gay marriage. The others are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa,
Maine and Vermont. But it will have an even bigger effect on the
approximately 30 of the 50 US states that have clauses in their
constitutions that marriage is solely a matter between a man and a
The judge’s decision handed supporters of gay rights a major
victory. But both sides expect the case to reach the US Supreme
Thursday’s notice of appeal is the first step in that process.
The case will be assigned to a three-judge appellate panel, and
legal experts say that opponents of gay marriage stand a far better
chance if the case reaches the US Supreme Court, which has a 5-4
The gay marriage issue has been unsettled for years in California,
where the top California state court had given the green light to
same sex marriage in May 2008, only to have 52 per cent of the voters
in November 2008 ban the practice through a referendum.
The ban was upheld in May 2009 by the California Supreme Court,
which did leave in place the 18,000 same-sex marriage licences issued
from May-November 2008.