US judge lifts bar on gay marriages

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The Independent US

A judge in California has ruled that no legal bar should stand in the way of same-sex marriage in the Golden State, a decision sure to revive controversy one year after San Francisco's grand experiment in same-sex marriage - the so-called Winter of Love - was shut down by court order.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer in effect struck down a provision of the state's family law limiting marriage to "a man and a woman". His ruling followed the same logic that led California - and, eventually, the whole of the United States - to lift a ban on mixed race marriages more than half a century ago.

"Same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before," he wrote.

The ruling is certain to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which might not issue its own ruling for another year. But it came as a triumphant vindication to San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, who risked his fledgling political reputation on his decision to sanction thousands of gay marrages a year ago in what was in effect a form of official civil disobedience.

Massachusetts is the only state in the union to make a definitive judgment in favour of same-sex marriage, although judges in New York and Washington state have made rulings similar to Judge Kramer's. Courts in a number of other states have ruled the other way.

Opponents of gay marriage in California vowed to appeal against Judge Kramer's ruling.