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Prop. 8: California's same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

California's same-sex marriage ban, also known as 'Prop. 8,' has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

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In this file photo, same-sex couple Elizabeth Chase (L) and Kate Baldridge stand outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco, California.

Robert Galbraith/REUTERS/File

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

It was unclear when gay marriages might resume in California. Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have repeatedly said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling from the 9th Circuit.

"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," the ruling states.

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed before he issued his decision that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

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