LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement on Thursday, voicing support for a federal judge's decision allowing gay marriages to resume next week unless an appeals court intervenes before then.
"I am pleased to see Judge Walker lift his stay and provide all Californians the liberties I believe everyone deserves," the governor said.
"Today's ruling continues to place California at the forefront in providing freedom and equality for all people."
Just a week after ruling that Proposition 8, a 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco agreed on Thursday to lift a stay on his decision, opening the door for untold numbers of gay couples to marry in the nation's most populous state.
But he delayed implementation of the order to lift his stay until Aug. 18 "solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner."
Walker ruled last week that Proposition 8 "both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
But he granted a temporary stay on the ruling at the request of Proposition 8 supporters, who said allowing couples to marry pending the appeal would create confusion if Walker's ruling is eventually overturned.
In Thursday's ruling, Walker said he would not impose a permanent stay on his ruling, but he gave the supporters one week to take their case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could still feasibly prevent Walker's ruling from taking effect.
The fight over Proposition 8 is expected to eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ruling was hailed as a victory by same-sex couples and opponents of Proposition 8.
"Today's ruling means that in less than one week, equality under the law will be restored for millions of loving families across California," said Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign. "Lifting the stay is ultimately consistent with both legal precedent and the findings in this case."
"Specifically, that every American has a civil right to marriage, and that by depriving millions of families this right, Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Judge Walker's ruling affirms that the purpose of our judicial system is to protect our constitutional rights, not to take away those rights."
But Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com: Campaign for Children and Families, blasted Walker's decision.
"Californians and Americans are waking up to the awful realization that the written Constitution may have no authority, oaths of office might be meaningless, and our republic is severely threatened by tyrannical judges and politicians," Thomasson said.