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Let gays marry, says Schwarzenegger

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and attorney general Jerry Brown have filed legal motions calling for same-sex weddings to resume in the state.

The motions came after US District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, on Wednesday. The judge ruled that the ban violated federal equal protections and due process laws but agreed to block gay marriages from resuming immediately until he could consider arguments while supporters of the ban launched an appeal.

Resuming gay marriage "is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect", actor-turned governor Schwarzenegger said in his legal filing.

Mr Brown, a candidate for governor, said the ruling meant it was time for gays to begin marrying again.

"While there is still the potential for limited administrative burdens should future marriages of same-sex couples be later declared invalid, these potential burdens are outweighed by this court's conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence, that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional," he said in his filing.

It was unclear when Judge Walker would issue a ruling on the possible resumption of same-sex marriages.

The outcome in the appeals court could force the US Supreme Court to confront the question of whether gays have a constitutional right to wed.

Currently, same-sex couples can legally marry only in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington DC.

California voters passed Proposition 8 five months after the state supreme court legalised same-sex unions and an estimated 18,000 couples already had tied the knot. Judge Walker presided over a 13-day trial earlier this year that was the first in federal court to examine if states can ban gays from getting married without violating the constitutional guarantee of equality.

Supporters argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing. But opponents said tradition or fears of harm to heterosexual unions were insufficient legal grounds to discriminate against gay couples.

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