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U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage, Prop. 8

December 7, 2012 | 12:31 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court said it would rule on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a ballot measure that banned gay marriage in the state.

The court's decision means that the fate of Proposition 8 remains in limbo for now. By agreeing to review Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the justices could hand gay rights advocates a historic victory and legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

But activists are well aware that the court could rule against them and throw the movement back at a time when same-sex marriage has seen a series of election victories at the state level. Opponents of gay marriage, by contrast, have been eager for the Supreme Court to weigh in and are hoping it will block the growing legalization of same-sex unions.

Map: How gay marriage has progressed in the U.S.

Proponents of Proposition 8 said they were pleased with the court's decision. 

“We are delighted that the nation’s highest court will decide whether to uphold the will of more than 7 million Californians who voted to preserve the unique definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage.com, which is fighting to preserve Proposition 8.

“Arguing this case before the Supreme Court finally gives us a chance at a fair hearing, something that hasn’t been afforded to the people since we began this fight.”

TIMELINE: Gay marriage since 2000

Last month, Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage ballot measures. They joined New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, which had already passed laws or issued court rulings allowing gay marriage, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, hundreds of gay men and lesbians in Washington state, some of whom had stood in line for hours, began picking up their marriage licenses. Washington will also recognize same-sex marriages from other states where it's legal.

"We waited a long time. We've been together 35 years, never thinking we'd get a legal marriage," said 85-year-old Pete-e Petersen, who with her partner, 77-year-old Jane Abbott Lighty, were the first to get a license, the AP reported."Now I feel so joyous I can't hardly stand it."

Q&A: Prop. 8, gay marriage and the Supreme Court

California briefly allowed same-sex marriages in 2008, per a decision by the California Supreme Court. Thousands of couples wed before voters that year passed the gay marriage ban. In 2009, the American Foundation for Equal Rights sued on behalf of two gay California couples who wanted to get married. After a district judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found Proposition 8 unconstitutional, the measure's supporters asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

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