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Supreme Court clears way for gay marriage in California

by MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press on June 26, 2013 10:48 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban.

The court's 5-4 vote Wednesday leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional. California officials probably will rely on that ruling to allow the resumption of same-sex unions in about a month's time.

The high court itself said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states.

The outcome was not along ideological lines.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.

"We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit," Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.

Four justices, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, said the court should have decided the constitutional question that was before it.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

PHOTO: Arriving at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, on a final day for decisions in two gay marriage cases are plaintiffs in the California Proposition 8 case, from left, Paul Katami, his partner Jeff Zarrillo, and Sandy Stier and her partner Kris Perry. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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