US & Canada

US Supreme court ends bid to halt California gay unions

Two women get married in Los Angeles, California 1 July 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Couples rushed to get married after gay weddings resumed in California on Friday

The US Supreme Court has rejected a long-shot emergency petition from opponents of same-sex marriage to halt gay unions in the state of California.

Gay weddings were banned in the state in 2008, but a historic Supreme Court ruling last week overturned the law.

Many gay couples rushed to get married after an appeals court in San Francisco said gay unions could resume on Friday.

But opponents said they had 25 days to challenge the Supreme Court ruling, and the ban should not have been lifted.

On Sunday, Justice Anthony Kennedy verbally denied the application that was lodged a day earlier.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, who filed the petition, described Friday's order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as "the latest in a long line of judicial irregularities".

The gay marriage ban - known as Proposition 8 - was approved by voters in 2008, months after California's supreme court decided such unions were legal.

Two same-sex couples then launched a legal challenge to the ban. The state of California refused to defend the proposition, so the group that sponsored it stepped up to do so.

But last week the Supreme Court decided a private party did not have the right to defend the constitutionality of a law, leaving in place the ruling of a lower court that struck down the measure.

About 18,000 same-sex couples were married in California in the less than five months same-sex marriages were permitted there.

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