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Washington Beat: Supreme Court Dismisses Proposition 8 Appeal

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The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision Wednesday, ruled against the supporters of California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban Wednesday, clearing the way for gay marriages in California. Washington D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

There were cheers and chants outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as same-sex couples and gay rights activists learned of the Proposition 8 ruling.

That California ballot measure limited marriage to a man and a woman. The Justices said the backers of Prop 8 did not have legal to appeal after a federal judge in San Francisco struck down by the measure.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion, "We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here."

Roberts was joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan.

Though the Prop 8 opinion was not a sweeping ruling on gay marriage, it did effectively overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in California.

"That's important, because that, by itself, brings the number of people living under gay marriage from 18 percent to 30 percent, and it gives the cause a lot of momentum," said Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution.

After the court issued its ruling, Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, showed up at the Supreme Court Building to show his support.

"I fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race and color not to be against discrimination based on sexual orientation," Lewis said.

There was a marriage proposal for the two plaintiffs in the case.

"Today is a good day. It's the day I finally get to look at the man that I love and finally say, 'Will you please marry me?'"

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, California governor Jerry Brown ordered state officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once a lower court stay is lifted.

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