A federal judge ruled that same-sex marriages will be able to resume in California next week. This ruling was made following his landmark decision to overturn the state's ban on gay and lesbian weddings.
Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling came as he rejected a formal motion by opponents of same-sex marriage to stay any further weddings until the appeals process had been exhausted.
But Walker disappointed couples who had been hoping to tie the knot immediately, saying in an 11-page finding that same-sex weddings would only be able to take place from August 18 onwards.
Opponents of same-sex marriage are expected to file an appeal against the decision ahead of the date.
"None of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay," Walker wrote in his order.
Both California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Jerry Brown had filed motions last Friday demanding same-sex marriages be allowed to resume immediately.
Schwarzenegger welcomed Walker's ruling in a statement on Thursday.
"I am pleased to see Judge Walker lift his stay and provide all Californians the liberties I believe everyone deserves," Schwarzenegger said.
"Today's ruling continues to place California at the forefront in providing freedom and equality for all people."
However Jim Campbell, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative grouping which opposes same-sex marriage, said allowing weddings to resume before the appeals process had run its course was "senseless."
"It makes no sense to impose a radical change in marriage on the people of California before all appeals on their behalf are heard," Campbell said.
"If the trial court's decision is eventually reversed, refusing to stay the decision will senselessly create legal uncertainty surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending."
Walker had last week found in favor of activists who argued that the California referendum which barred same-sex marriage was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution.
The referendum, known as Proposition 8, was passed by a 52 percent majority in November 2008, only six months after California's Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex weddings, sending gays and lesbians flocking to marry.
Legal experts believe the case is almost certain to end up before the US Supreme Court in around two years, once appeals hearings in lower courts have run their course.
In his judgment last week, Walker ruled that Proposition 8 failed to "advance any rational basis" to deny marriage licenses to gay men and lesbians.
"Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."
Walker's decision drew howls of condemnation from conservative opponents of same-sex marriage, alleging that Walker -- who is gay -- had allowed his ruling to be influenced by his own sexual orientation.
Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com -- Campaign for Children and Families described the decision as a "terrible blow" to voter rights and accused Walker of imposing a "homosexual agenda" on California.
In a separate statement Thursday, Thomasson branded Walker a "tyrannical judicial activist."
"Californians and Americans are waking up to the awful realization that the written Constitution may have no authority, oaths of office might be meaningless, and our republic is severely threatened by tyrannical judges and politicians," Thomasson said.