In an extraordinary 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 filed his brief with 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."
Walker concluded in a decision Wednesday that 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.
As governor, Schwarzenegger is named as a defendant in the case, although he remained neutral in the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. The governor was against the initiative when it was on the ballot and chose not to defend the constitutional amendment in court. He filed his brief Friday in his role as a named defendant and on behalf of two other administration officials.
The Schwarzenegger administration contended in the brief that there is no governmental or public interest in continuing a ban on gay marriage after Walker's decision." Instead, the administration said that allowing such marriages to resume would further the state's interest in recognizing the rights of gays and lesbians. It also said that there would be no administrative burden for the state to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. California issued 18,000 such licenses before passage of Proposition 8.
Schwarzenegger applauded Walker's decision earlier this week.
"For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves," the governor said in a statement Wednesday.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, filed a similar motion. Brown had argued that proposition 8 was unconstitutional when the measure went before the California Supreme Court last year.
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