The first same-sex couple has married in the US state of California after a five-year ban on gay marriage was overturned. The union was made possible after a US appeals court lifted the state's 2008 voter-approved ban.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the ban on same-sex marriages in California on Friday.
"The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately," the court said in its ruling.
California's Attorney General Kamala Harris offered a celebratory tweet shortly after the order was issued, noting that she was en route to officiate the wedding of the two lead plaintiffs in the case on Friday afternoon.
"On my way to SF [San Francisco] City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring," Harris tweeted on Friday.
Going to court
Voters back in 2008 approved a ban on same-sex marriages in the state, but a lawsuit filed by a same-sex couple has been challenging the ban in the courts. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that sponsors of the voter-approved gay marriage ban lacked the authority to defend it in court after the Attorney General and California Governor Jerry Brown refused to uphold the measure.
As a result, a trial judge's declaration that the ban is a violation of civil rights stands.
Couples, officials and activists descended upon San Francisco's City Hall on Friday, shortly after the ruling, in order to see the immediate resumption of same-sex marriage licences being issued and couples being married.
The couple at the heart of the legal objections to the voter-approved ban were the first to be married at the city hall on Friday.
"This is really a great day," said Cindy Stier, who filed the lawsuit against Proposition 8 alongside her fiancee Kristin Perry.
The couple married at the city hall at 4.15 p.m. local time, with Harris officiating.
In pronouncing the pair married, Harris said: "I now declare you spouses for life."
tm/ccp (AP, Reuters)