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Proposition 8 ruling opens door to Supreme Court test

June 5, 2012 | 10:09 am

Same sex marriage Dec 2011
A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected an appeal of February’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, a move that is likely to send the debate over same-sex marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals paves the way for a high court decision on gay marriage by next year.

Proposition 8, passed by California voters in November 2008, reinstated a ban on same-sex nuptials six months after the state Supreme Court had struck it down on state constitutional grounds. The ballot measure amended the state constitution. Two same-sex couples then sued in federal court, contending that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution.

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in February that the ban violated federal constitutional guarantees but limited the effect of the ruling to California. Sponsors of Proposition 8 asked the 9th Circuit to assemble an 11-judge panel to rehear the case.

A majority of the circuit’s active judges voted against such reconsideration.

Tuesday’s decision means the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to  have two major gay-rights cases on its docket in the near future.  Another federal appeals court last week struck down a federal  law that denied federal recognition to same-sex marriage.

RELATED:

Supreme Court may not hear Prop. 8 appeal

Same-sex marriage won't resume immediately

Ruling to have limited effect outside California

-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco

Photo: Demonstrators gather outside the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard motions in December regarding Proposition 8. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

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