The California Supreme Court upheld today a voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage, a decision being welcomed as respect for voter rights.
The possibility of same-sex marriage in California has been going back-and-forth, particularly in the last year.
Today's decision was welcomed as "the culmination of years of hard work to preserve marriage in California," according to a statement released by Andrew Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com.
Pugno said that "hundreds of thousands of volunteers worked diligently to uphold the institution of marriage."
He explained: "Twice, voters have decided that marriage in California should be only between a man and a woman. We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the right of voters to define marriage in the California Constitution. The voters have decided this issue and their views should be respected."
In 2000, Californians voted to keep marriage between a man and a woman. But last May, the state's high court overturned that vote and approved same-sex marriage. Some 18,000 gay couples were quick to take advantage of the new prerogative.
Then California citizens rallied support to put the issue to vote again in November. With slightly more than a 52% majority, same-sex marriage was again made illegal in California.
That measure was known as Proposition 8 and it added to the California Constitution the following clause: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
The court's decision today upholds the ban, but does not "un-marry" the 18,000 gay couples who wed between May and November.
There are now five states in the United States that allow same-sex marriage: Iowa, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.