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In between, Walker has set aside time to hear from lawyers for Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office and for the city of San Francisco, which joined the case to argue that denying gays the right to wed has negative economic consequences for local governments.

Judge Walker is being asked to overturn the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriages in California five months after the state Supreme Court legalized it and after an estimated 18,000 couples from around the nation tied the knot.

The plaintiffs also are seeking an injunction that would prohibit the state from enforcing the measure and immediately allow gay marriage to resume in the state.

Depending on how he rules, Judge Walker could decide the case in a way that leaves the gay marriage bans in 44 other states vulnerable to attacks under the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs are arguing that such bans are based on unlawful bias, not legitimate societal aims, and therefore violate the civil rights of gay men and lesbians by denying them a basic civil right. That’s the same argument that was used to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 to strike down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Whatever the judge does likely will be reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and well could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.