California's Proposition 8 plaintiffs, Kris Perry and Sandy Steir walk into the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The Supreme Court is meeting to deliver opinions in two cases that could dramatically alter the rights of gay people across the United States. The justices are expected to decide their first-ever cases about gay marriage Wednesday in their last session before the court's summer break. (AP/Cliff Owen)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban.
The court's 5-4 vote Wednesday leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional. California officials probably will rely on that ruling to allow the resumption of same-sex unions in about a month's time.
The high court itself said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states.
The outcome was not along ideological lines.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.
"We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit," Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8.