SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The federal judge who ruled that California’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional says he is stepping down from the bench.

The San Francisco-based federal court says Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker notified President Barack Obama by letter on Wednesday that he will leave the court in February.

READ MORE: LA Officially Bids To Host Games For 2026 World Cup

Walker is retiring after 21 years as a federal judge. The 66-year-old has been chief judge of the Northern District of California since 2004.

READ MORE: New $500M Skyscraper Proposed For Sunset Blvd. In Hollywood

He did not state in the letter his reason for stepping down.

Walker oversaw the high-profile trial over Proposition 8, a voter-approved initiative restricting a marriage to one man and one woman. His August ruling that struck down Proposition 8 is currently being challenged in a federal appeals court.

MORE NEWS: Buy Them Now: Shoppers Urged To Get A Jump On The Holidays Due To Global Shipping Problems

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)