Gay marriage advocates vow to appeal California judgement

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Advocates for gay rights in California plan to appeal a state appeals court decision to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a string of recent setbacks for same-sex marriage campaigners.

In a 2-to-1 decision last week, a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals overturned a 2005 ruling by a lower court judge in San Francisco that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.

This summer, high courts in New York and Washington state also refused to strike down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

But unlike in those states, the Washington Post reports that gay activists in California still have another chance to get the state’s marriage laws overturned. They and their opponents have said they expect the California Supreme Court to settle the issue.

“While we are disappointed that the Court of Appeal ruled against our families, we are confident that we will prevail and that the California dream will be available to all,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.

According to the Post, opponents of gay marriage praised the court’s decision.

“The court understood that marriage has a meaning, and that unless you redefine marriage all the arguments the other side have made are meaningless,” said Glen Lavy, an attorney for Alliance Defence Fund, which asked the appeals court to overturn the lower court ruling, reports the Post.

Only one jurisdiction in the United States, the state of Massachusetts, allows same-sex couples to marry, based on a controversial court decision in 2003. But those marriages aren’t recognised by other states, and Massachusetts law prohibits non-residents from seeking marriage licenses there, reports CNN.

California and five other states — Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Hawaii and Maine — have established either civil unions or domestic partnership laws that provide many of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.

CNN reports that last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that will allow gay or lesbian couples to file joint state tax returns for the first time.

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