08/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

California Removed As Defendant In Federal Gay Marriage Lawsuit

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A judge has agreed to remove the state of California as a defendant in a lawsuit challenging the 1996 law that prevents the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

U.S. District Judge David Carter says the state is no longer an appropriate target in the case because the gay couple who brought it got married in California last year before voters approved a ban on same-sex unions.

Carter issued the order Thursday acting on a request from California's attorney general.

The U.S. government remains a defendant. The U.S. Department of Justice is arguing to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act.

The department's position has angered gay rights activists, who see it as a betrayal of President Obama's campaign pledge to work for the act's repeal.

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