Barring an unforeseen legal bombshell, gay marriage is here to stay in California.

In a one-line order, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to halt same-sex marriages throughout the state, rejecting the latest legal bid to revive Proposition 8's ban on gay nuptials.

The justices, meeting in their weekly closed-door conference, declined to hear a case brought last month by backers of Proposition 8 who argue that the law should remain in effect in at least 56 of the state's 58 counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June left intact a 2010 federal judge's ruling finding the state's voter-approved ban unconstitutional, concluding that sponsors of the 2008 ballot measure did not have the legal right to defend the law in place of the governor and attorney general.

Eve and Trish Kedar hug as they exchange their wedding vows in the office of Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager’s office in San Jose, Calif. on
Eve and Trish Kedar hug as they exchange their wedding vows in the office of Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager's office in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 1, 2013. They have waited five years to get married. Same-sex weddings were resumed for the first time since 2008 following last week's ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay on gay marriages in California. The ruling officially ended Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative banning same-sex marriage. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group) ( Gary Reyes )

Since that time, thousands of same-sex couples have married across California. But Proposition 8 backers maintained that the original ruling should only apply to the two couples who challenged the law and their two counties, Alameda and Los Angeles.

The state Supreme Court, however, declined to consider those legal arguments. The move was not a surprise -- legal experts considered the maneuver a long shot, and the justices previously refused to temporarily halt same-sex marriages while they considered the issue.

Proposition 8 backers expressed dismay at both the state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court outcomes, saying it "leaves grave doubts about the future of the initiative process in our state."


Advertisement

"When politicians disregard the law, and the courts refuse to get involved, what are we left with?" said Andy Pugno, counsel for ProtectMarriage.com.

While court battles over same-sex marriage are continuing to unfold in other states, the California's Supreme Court's order appears to put an end to nearly a decade of legal feuding over the issue in this state.

August 4, 2010. From left,  in white, Sharon Papo and Amber Weiss renew their marriage vows at the Prop 8 rally in the Castro District in San Francisco.
August 4, 2010. From left, in white, Sharon Papo and Amber Weiss renew their marriage vows at the Prop 8 rally in the Castro District in San Francisco. The vow renewal was officiated by Cantor Jewlia Eisenberg, in center. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, the state's latest attempt to outlaw gay nuptials.(LiPo Ching/Mercury News) ( LiPo Ching )

Legal experts have predicted gay marriage foes might try the argument again in the federal courts if they failed in the state Supreme Court. But Proposition 8's sponsors now do not have the right, or standing, to press on in the federal courts, leaving it to others, such as rebel county clerks, to try to halt same-sex marriages.

San Diego's county clerk at first sided with Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court but recently dropped his challenge.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz