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
Now, there are only two things that could happen:
Couples start getting married again in California; or
Our case for marriage equality goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.