Demonstrators for and against gay marriage await the California Supreme Court decision on state Proposition 8, a ballot initiative, limiting marriage to a man and a woman, at the State Building in San Francisco on May 26, 2009. The court upheld the initiative but declared that 18,000 gay marriages occurring before the vote are legal. (UPI Photo/Terry Schmitt) | License Photo
SACRAMENTO, May 26 (UPI) -- Proponents and opponents of California's Proposition 8 held their ground Tuesday after the state high court upheld the ban on same-sex marriages.
The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Prop 8 is constitutional, but unanimously said 18,000 same-sex marriages, performed before the November vote on Prop 8, remain valid.
In a statement, Ron Prentice, California Family Council's executive director, said supporters "thank the court."
"Both the historic definition of marriage and the will of the people has been bolstered today in California," he said. "We thank the court for their sound legal decision. More than 100,000 people gave of their time and resources to reinforce the meaning and purpose of marriage, and now, the broad coalition of organizations and individuals known as ProtectMarriage.com moves ahead to strengthen the essential role of marriage in California's future."
Former U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, argued for Prop 8 before the court for ProtectMarriage.com, while state Attorney General Jerry Brown argued against it.
Prentice said celebrations honoring the decision are planned in several California cities, including San Diego and Fresno.
One of the churches hosting a celebration, Cornerstone Church in Fresno, was twice defaced with red and yellow paint last week, which Prentice said shows that opponents of "traditional marriage have been exposed for their intolerance of a person's rights of conscience and religious expression."
In contrast, Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "Today, personal freedom took a big hit in California. ...
"This is deeply disappointing," he added, "especially in light of the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling saying that it is unconstitutional to keep gay couples from marrying -- and the passage of laws opening marriage to everyone by the Vermont and Maine legislatures. Public support for marriage for same-sex couples is gaining ground, but California is being left behind."