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Hardman Arnie joins battle for gay marriage

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has told a judge that allowing same-sex marriages to resume immediately in the state was the right thing to do.

The Hollywood icon joined lawyers for gay couples and Attorney General Jerry Brown in filing legal motions on the issue yesterday.

The move came two days after US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California's voter-approved gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.

Walker said gay marriages should begin immediately. But he later agreed to suspend weddings until he could consider the legal arguments he ordered to be filed by yesterday.

Currently, same-sex couples can legally wed only in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington DC. Opponents said they want the ban to stay in effect until their appeal of Walker's ruling is decided by higher courts.

They argued in court papers filed earlier this week that resuming gay marriage now would cause legal chaos if Walker's ruling is reversed.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals received their appeal of Walker's decision just hours after the judge ruled that the ban violates the civil rights of gay Californians. Yesterday, Schwarzenegger and Brown were the first to urge an immediate resumption of gay marriage, which was legal for four months before voters amended the California Constitution to outlaw it in November 2008.

Schwarzenegger's lawyers said allowing gay marriage was "consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect."