SAN FRANCISCO — The three-year legal showdown over California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a brief order Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a ruling earlier this year that struck down Proposition 8, finding the 2008 law unconstitutional because it stripped gay and lesbian couples of the right to marry. The appeals court denied a request from Proposition 8 backers to rehear the case with a special 11-judge panel.
Same-sex couples will not be allowed to marry immediately while Proposition 8 supporters are given a chance to appeal to the Supreme Court.
As a result, gay marriage foes must turn to the Supreme Court as the only chance of reviving California's ban on same-sex nuptials. The development comes less than a week after a federal appeals court in Boston found the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage rights unconstitutional, heightening the prospect the Supreme Court may be forced to consider both state and federal gay marriage restrictions next term.
Proposition 8 supporters have vowed to press their cause to the Supreme Court. They likely would file their request for the Supreme Court to hear the case in the coming months, giving the justices the opportunity to decide whether to take it or let the 9th Circuit decision stand when they return in the fall. If the justices take up the legal battle, they would be expected to hear arguments early next year and rule by June 2013.
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