Ban on gay marriage to head to California's Supreme Court


The thorny issue of same-sex marriage in California may be taken up by the US Supreme Court after appeal judges refused yesterday to revisit their earlier decision to overturn a ban on gay weddings.

The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, sitting in San Francisco, declined to re-hear arguments over Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage, which was backed by voters in a referendum in November 2008.

In February this year, the appeal court invalidated the ban when a three-judge panel said it was unconstitutional because it denied gays and lesbians their right to civil marriage in violation of the 14th Amendment. Backers of Proposition 8 asked for a larger panel of judges to re-hear the case but, in a seven-page judgment yesterday, the court refused. The parties now have 90 days to ask the US Supreme Court to intervene.

Gay rights campaigners cheered the court's decision. Evan Wolfson, of lobby group Freedom to Marry, said: "It is long past time for this 'gay exception' to marriage in California to come to an end."