In a decision issued August 4, 2010, Vaughn Walker, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that Proposition 8, which defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional as violative of both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Proposition 8 was passed by a narrow majority of voters in November 2008 and has been in litigation ever since.

According to Walker, the 18,000 gay marriages granted between June 16, 2008 and November 5, 2008 (the brief window during which same-sex marriages were legal) have not and do not pose any public harm. Walker ordered an entry of judgment permanently enjoining enforcement of Proposition 8. However, Walker also ordered a temporary stay of execution of that judgment pending the anticipated appeals to higher courts, perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court.

Both current governor, Arnorld Schwarzenegger, and former governor and current gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Brown, delivered letters to the Chief Judge on August 7, 2010, opposing the stay. “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,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his letter.