Protesters rally to overturn Proposition 8, at the State Capitol, in Sacramento, California, on November 22, 2008. (UPI Photo/Ken James) | License Photo
SAN FRANCISCO, June 5 (UPI) -- The full U.S. appeals court in San Francisco Tuesday refused to review a three-judge panel's ruling striking down California's ban on gay marriage.
The issue now is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court for what may be a definitive decision on same-sex marriage, and the ruling by the panel will not be implemented until the high court acts.
An order from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the full court "was advised of the petition for rehearing en banc. A judge requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. The matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of the non-recused active judges in favor of en banc consideration. ... The petition for rehearing en banc is denied."
However, the court said: "The mandate is stayed for 90 days pending the filing of a petition for [review] in the Supreme Court. If such a petition is filed, the stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court."
The denial was the culmination in a three-year legal battle over the 2008 voter-enacted ban.
The San Jose Mercury News said despite the three-judge panel's ruling and the full appeals court's refusal to review, same-sex couples will not be able to marry while the case is fought in the Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in February against the gay marriage ban, saying it was unconstitutional and designed to "lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians." However, the ruling was limited to California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The court action in California comes less than a week after a U.S. appeals court in Boston found the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage rights unconstitutional.
The newspaper said Prop 8 supporters have vowed to take their case to the Supreme Court, which could hear the case next term and rule by the end of the term.