SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a surprising court filing, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Friday that gay marriages be allowed to resume immediately in California after a federal ruling that the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
The Republican governor joined gay plaintiffs in asking U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker before a Friday deadline to submit arguments on whether to continue a stay of Walker’s decision against Proposition 8.
“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,” wrote Kenneth C. Mennemeier, an attorney representing Schwarzenegger, in the brief.
“Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect,” the brief says.
Attorney General Jerry Brown, Democratic candidate for governor, also filed a brief urging Walker to lift his temporary stay on his own ruling, which orders officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8.
Walker concluded in a decision Wednesday that California’s Proposition 8 violates the equal protection and due process rights of gays and lesbians. The initiative passed with 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.
In response to the defense, Walker immediately agreed to place a temporary stay on his ruling.
He gave both sides in the legal battle until midnight Friday to file arguments for lifting the stay.
The Proposition 8 defense team filed an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday.
Walker could hold a hearing on the request for a stay, or he could issue a decision after considering written arguments.
Schwarzenegger vetoed bills legalizing gay marriage in both 2005 and 2006, saying he preferred to defer to courts.
This week, he made clear he welcomed Walker’s ruling.
“For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives,” he said in a statement, “this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves.”
Vik Amar, a University of California, Davis, School of Law professor, said the governor’s brief is unlikely to affect Walker’s decision on the stay. But he said it is significant because it’s the first time the governor has taken a formal stance in the Proposition 8 case.
“Before he was agnostic,” Amar said, “but this suggests he believes the judge got the decision right.”
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