On Thursday, California’s Supreme Court ruled that opponents of gay marriage are legally entitled to defend Proposition 8 in court, stating that Proposition 8 proponents have the legal authority to defend the measure. In September, the California Supreme Court heard arguments concerning whether ProtectMarriage, supporters of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California, have standing to represent the state by defending the law in the pending case in the US Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court.

ProtectMarriage requested the standing to challenge Federal District Judge Vaughn’s 2010 ruling that Proposition 8 violates the federal constitutional rights of lesbians and gays because neither Governor Jerry Brown (D) nor Attorney General Kamala Harris will defend the law in the appeal. Judge Walker’s decision overturned a 6 to 1 ruling by the California Supreme Court which upheld the measure in May 2009. In 2008, Proposition 8 was passed by voters in an electoral referendum.

Gay rights activists were disappointed with the ruling, expressing fear about the larger implications of the court’s decision. “While not unexpected, this ruling means that it may be years before loving gay and lesbian couples will again be able to marry in California,” said Tom Watson, Board Chair for Love Honor Cherish, a gay rights group dedicated specifically to the repeal of Proposition 8.

The case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. More than 40 other U.S. states currently have measures similar to Proposition 8 that seek to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Los Angeles Times 11/17/11; Reuters 11/17/11; Love Honor Cherish Press Release 11/17/11