A federal judge in California on Wednesday struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution - handing supporters of gay rights a major victory in a case that both sides say is sure to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 136-page opinion, issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, is an initial step in what will likely be a lengthy fight over California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
At stake in the trial was whether California's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay couples' rights to equal protection and due process, as protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The high-profile case is being watched closely by both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is destined to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could result in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry people of the same sex.