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California Supreme Court won't interfere with gay marriage in state

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stop same-sex weddings in the most populous U.S. state, dealing a blow to gay marriage opponents who are trying to regroup after losing at the nation's high court earlier this year.

California voters passed a gay marriage ban in 2008, known as Proposition 8, but a San Francisco federal judge struck down the initiative as unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that supporters of the ban did not have the legal right to appeal.

In the aftermath of that highly anticipated opinion, Prop 8 supporters asked the California Supreme Court to rule that the original federal order did not apply across the state, but rather only to the two couples involved in the case.

But the California Supreme Court denied that request in a one-sentence order on Wednesday, which did not provide any legal analysis.

Andy Pugno, an attorney for pro-Prop 8 group ProtectMarriage.com, said the court's ruling "leaves grave doubts about the future of the initiative process in our state."

Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June, a federal appeals court allowed gay marriages to resume in California and a wave of ceremonies began immediately.

Minnesota and Rhode Island began to allow gay weddings last month. Same-sex marriage is allowed in 15 states and Washington, D.C., and gay rights advocates believe momentum is on their side to extend it further.

The case in the California Supreme Court is Dennis Hollingsworth vs. Patrick O'Connell et al., S211990.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Eric Beech)

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