San Francisco: Same-sex marriages can resume in California after a federal judge on Thursday lifted a temporary stay he put in place after overturning the state`s ban on gay marriage last week.
Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that same-sex marriages will be legal in California from August 18.
Walker on August 04 had overturned California`s ban on same-sex marriage, saying that the voter-approved restriction violated the highest law of the land, the US Constitution.
That ruling by Walker overturned a 2009 ruling by the California Supreme Court, which had upheld a statewide ballot proposition in 2008 that reserved marriage for two people of the opposite sex.
In his decision last week, the judge had ordered an injunction against enforcement of the Proposition 8 ballot item, but issued a temporary stay until he could decide whether to suspend his ruling while it was being appealed.
The ruling makes California only the sixth state in the US to permit gay marriage. The others are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Maine and Vermont. It will have an even bigger effect on the approximately 30 of the 50 US states that have clauses in their Constitutions that define marriage as only between one man and one woman.
In a 136-page ruling last week, Walker said that the ballot measure "prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis”.
The constitutional right to marry, Walker said, "protects an individual`s choice of marital partner regardless of gender”. He added that domestic partnerships in California, available to same-sex couples, are a "substitute and inferior institution" that lack the social meaning and cultural status of marriage.
He also observed that children who grow up in same-sex marriages are as well adjusted as those from heterosexual relationships.
The gay marriage issue has been unsettled for years in California, where the top state court had given the green light to same sex marriage in May 2008, only to have 52 percent of the voters in November 2008 ban the practice following a massive campaign by church organisations and conservative groups.
The ban was then upheld in May 2009 by the California Supreme Court, which however did recognise the 18,000 gay marriages that were licensed by the state between May and November 2008 before the ballot measure was approved.