US & Canada

California gay marriage ban lifted

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Media captionSandy Stier and Kris Perry took each other as a "lawfully wedded wife"

A US appeals court has lifted a ban on same-sex marriages in California, following a Supreme Court ruling.

The order was issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Within moments, gay weddings resumed at the city hall - the first such marriages in the state since the voter-approved ban in November 2008.

On Wednesday the US Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling which had struck down the ban - also known as Proposition 8.

The ruling means that 13 US states and the District of Columbia now recognise same-sex marriage.

Supporters of Proposition 8 described the appeals court's action as "outrageous".

'Wait is over'

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had been expected to wait 25 days before lifting the ban - in case the losing side wanted to ask for the case to be heard again.

But judges at the appeals court decided to act on Friday, saying: "The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately."

Shortly afterwards, two same-sex couples whose case led to the Supreme Court's Wednesday decision got married.

The wedding of Kris Perry, 48, and Sandy Stier, 50, was officiated by California's Attorney General Kamala Harris at San Francisco's town hall.

She declared them "spouse and spouse", but during their vows they took each other as a "lawfully wedded wife".

"They have waited and fought for this moment. Today their wait is finally over," Ms Harris said.

The other couple, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, married in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Proposition 8 supporters accused their opponents of "achieving their goal in a dishonourable fashion".

"It is a disgraceful day for California,'' said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the coalition of religious conservative groups that had sponsored the proposition.

Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 - months after California's supreme court decided such unions were legal.

The two couples launched the legal challenge. As the state of California refused to defend the proposition, the group that sponsored it stepped up to do so.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that a private party could not challenge the earlier lower court ruling, as it could not demonstrate it would suffer injury if same-sex marriages were allowed.

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