A U.S. federal appeals court in California has upheld is decision to strike down the state's homosexual marriage ban as unconstitutional.
The appeals court refused to reconsider the February decision by a three-judge panel. Same-sex marriage supporters call Tuesday's ruling a victory for justice. Opponents say they will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California in 2008, before voters approved a ban called Proposition 8.
A panel of judges on the court of appeals voted 2 to 1 in February that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. But the legality of gay and lesbian marriage in California will remain undecided until the Supreme Court hears the case.
Same-sex marriage is legal in eight U.S. states and Washington, DC, but it is not recognized by the federal government.
A U.S. appeals court in the state of Massachusetts ruled last week that the federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the state.
President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have said they will no longer defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts. President Obama publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage last month.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.