Supporters of gay marriage embrace outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, after the court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court says it is lifting its freeze on same-sex marriages in California and the state is required to issue licenses to gay couples starting immediately.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order Friday saying it's lifting the stay it imposed while a lawsuit challenging California's gay marriage ban worked its way through the courts.
That means same-sex marriages can resume in the state for the first time since 2008.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that the sponsors of California's voter-approved gay marriage ban lacked the authority to defend Proposition 8 in court once the governor and state attorney general refused to do so.
The decision lets stand a trial judge's declaration that the ban violates the civil rights of gay Californians and cannot be enforced.