Yesterday the Republican Mayor of San Diego decided to sign the resolution to overturn Proposition 22, which some claim bans same-sex marriage in the state of California.

Jerry Sanders’ last minute decision, which conflicts with his former campaign promises, reflects his “significant” change of opinion on the subject. Mr Sanders said:

“I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. These folks include my daughter Lisa and her partner, as well as members of my personal staff.

“In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana.”

Democrat Toni Atkins, a fellow San Diego Council member, who was formerly the first openly lesbian mayor of the city, said:

“Today Mayor Sanders acted with courage, fairness, and integrity in supporting the Council’s action to put California’s second largest city on record in support of equality for same sex couples.

“I am personally deeply grateful to the Mayor for his leadership.”

Mr Sanders decision has delighted campaigners.

LGBT organisation Equality California’s executive director Geoff Kors said:

“We applaud the true leadership Mayor Sanders has shown today by supporting marriage for all loving and committed couples in California.

“Today, Mayor Sanders and the City of San Diego have demonstrated that support for equality crosses party lines.”

On Monday Governor Schwarzenegger announced that he would continue to block same-sex marriage legislation unless a state-wide vote overturned Proposition 22, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. It passed in 2000 with 61% support.

A court subsequently ruled that Proposition 22 only bars recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside California, but the Governor insists that the people voted to ban gay marriage within the state.

“It would be wrong for the people to vote for something and for me to then overturn it,” Schwarzenegger said.

15 gay and lesbian couples are challenging the law before California’s Supreme Court. Their case is expected to be heard early next year.

Robin Tyler, one of the plaintiffs in the case and a gay rights activist, yesterday called for the resignation of the Governor’s openly lesbian chief of staff Susan Kennedy.