The California Supreme Court has upheld a ban on same-sex marriage that was passed by the state's voters last November. The court also upheld the validity of 18,000 gay and lesbian marriages performed before the ban, called Proposition 8, was enacted.
It was a mixed decision that brought angry gay rights supporters to the streets of San Francisco, where some were arrested for blocking intersections.
Opponents applaud decision
Opponents of gay marriage, including the Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, applauded the court's decision.
"This is a victory for the people," he said. "The sovereignty of the people is so important in our system of government and so I am thrilled that the court saw the light of day."
Gay activists and their supporters in Los Angeles vowed to continue the fight with another ballot measure that would reverse Proposition 8.
"We will overturn Prop. 8," said Lorri Jean, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. "We will ensure that California is a place where liberty and justice for all is once again a reality."
Voters approved ban in November
Last November, California voters approved the ban on same-sex marriage by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. The measure limited marriage in the state to a union between a man and a woman. Tuesday, by a margin of six to one, the state court justices rejected the argument that the measure illegally revised the state constitution.
But the justices were unanimous in upholding the validity of thousands of same-sex marriages performed last year, when the courts were wrestling with the question of how far marriage rights should be extended.
Activists will target minority communities
Activists planning a ballot initiative in favor of same-sex marriage say they will target minority communities, including Latinos and African Americans. Many minority voters supported Proposition 8.
One black community leader, Reverend Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, hopes to reach out and change their minds.
"African Americans generally vote to uphold or restore the civil rights of people who have been oppressed or discriminated against," said Lee. "So for that reason, for African Americans to get back to our history of fighting for civil rights for all people, our history of inclusion as opposed to exclusion, it's necessary for that outreach to take place."
Time for outreach
In Los Angeles, Elissa Barrett, a lawyer and gay Jewish activist who married a woman last year, plans strategy with colleagues. She says it is time for outreach to the religious community.
"My wife has a saying: prayer and shoe leather go together. And I agree with her," said Barrett. "And I think that there are a lot of people in churches and mosques and synagogues - wherever they were when this election happened last fall, have awoken."
Five other U.S. states acknowledge same-sex marriage - Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. If gay marriage opponents in California say the matter is closed, supporters say the fight is just beginning.