Court lifts stay on same-sex marriages in California

Unions can immediately resume in state

SAN DIEGO - Same-sex couples in San Diego County and across the state were cleared Friday to get married, with a federal appeals court lifting a stay it had placed on the unions while the battle over Proposition 8 was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation's highest court ruled Wednesday that supporters of Proposition 8 -- the voter-approved measure that banned same-sex marriage in California -- lacked the proper standing to appeal a lower-court ruling declaring the measure unconstitutional.

The ruling essentially allowed the original federal court ruling to stand, striking down Prop. 8.

But the resumption of weddings was left on hold because of an earlier stay that had been issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals while the case was pending.

Although it initially appeared that same-sex couples would have to wait about 25 days before the stay would be lifted, the 9th Circuit issued a one-sentence order today reading, "The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately."

After the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling was released Wednesday, state Attorney General Kamala Harris had called on the 9th Circuit to immediately lift the stay.

Under federal court rules, however, there generally would be a 25-day period to allow proponents of Prop. 8 to seek a re-hearing before the Supreme Court.

With the 9th Circuit lifting the stay, however, Harris quickly wrote on her Twitter page, "On my way to (San Francisco) City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring!"

However, in San Diego County, they could start ringing on Monday.

An employee at the San Diego County Clerk's office, who asked not to be identified by name, said although the ruling had been handed down lifting the stay, the county clerk's office had not yet began taking applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples.

"We've had a lot of calls come in, but since we have not received instructions from Sacramento, we're still not able to make appointments," she said.

She said those seeking an appointment should call on Monday, since the county clerk's office at the County Administration Building stops taking calls at 4 p.m. and is closed on weekends.

An appointment is required to obtain a marriage license and/or civil ceremony, according to the website for the assessor/recorder/county clerk.

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