The California Supreme Court decided Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups,  sets the stage for a federal ruling -- which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court -- that would affect marriage bans outside California.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors  standing,  or legal authority, to defend their measures.

State officials are entitled to champion ballot measures in court, but the governor and the attorney general have refused to defend  Proposition 8.

 

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-- Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times