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Court backs gay-marriage ban

CALIFORNIA'S supreme court backed a ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, upholding a voter-approved proposition defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The court, which last year opened the door to same-sex unions in the most populous state of the United States, bowed to the majority of California voters who passed the ban known as Proposition 8 last November.

The argument continued in San Francisco streets, where gay marriage backers vowed to continue the fight at the ballot box in 2010.

"We will not be moved. Repeal Prop 8!" shouted protesters who blocked an intersection in a show of civil disobedience. Police began arresting them one by one.

DeWitt Hoard, 65, a black man who legally married another man in California last year, compared the gay rights fight to that for racial equality. "I've been on this road for a while," he said. "Now we can't marry? Yes we will, it will happen."

Social conservatives, too, vowed to fight.

"If marriage were between two men, society could not go on. It's not fear, it's just the way it should be," said 18-year-old college student Mike Choban.

The court said the roughly 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the state between June and November last year remained valid since the ban was not retroactive.

Forty-two states explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. Gay couples can get married in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, and several states provide for same-sex unions that grant many of the same rights as marriage.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked for peaceful and lawful protests in a statement. He predicted same-sex marriage would eventually prevail in California.

Tony Perkins, of the conservative Family Research Council, saw continued success for his group, which has prevailed against gay marriage in every state where the question has been put to a popular vote.


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