GOING TO THE CHAPEL…. Last week, Federal Judge Vaughn Walker declared California’s Proposition 8, banning marriage equality in the state, to be unconstitutional. Today, Walker said Prop 8 will no longer apply to California, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The federal judge who overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban ruled Thursday that gay marriages can resume starting Aug. 18.

The decision by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker means gay and lesbian couples will have to wait six days before they can get married. That gives gay marriage opponents time to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the appeals court fails to act by 5 p.m. local time next Wednesday, then gay marriages can go forward.

In his ruling, Walker concluded, “Because proponents make no argument that they — as opposed to the state defendants or plaintiffs — will be irreparably injured absent a stay, proponents have not given the court any basis to exercise its discretion to grant a stay.”

That’s obviously encouraging, but we don’t yet know whether the 9th Circuit, generally considered the most progressive appeals court bench, will again stay the ruling, and keep the ban in place as the case continues through the appeals process.

I’m not an attorney — those who know the procedural details here are encouraged to weigh in on this in the comments section — but it’s my understanding that today’s announcement will, at a minimum, expedite the review of Walker’s decision from last week.

On a related note, FDL has an interesting item on the three judges most likely to hear the appeal at the 9th Circuit, and why there’s ample reason to be optimistic that the three will uphold the underlying Walker ruling.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.