The California Supreme Court has overturned a ban on gay marriage, paving the way for California to become the second state where gay and lesbian residents can marry. The ruling reverses a voter-approved law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The ban was approved by California voters in 2000.
In 2004, the ban was challenged by gay rights activists after California's Supreme Court invalidated the marriage of 4,000 gay couples in San Francisco. The state's high court had ruled that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had overstepped his authority in issuing marriage licenses to the couples.
The decision issued by the California Supreme Court on Thursday rules that to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying is tantamount to granting them second-class status. It was approved by a 4-3 vote.
The ruling takes effect in 30 days, at which point gay couples can go to city halls across the state and get married.
Massachusetts is the only other state to allow same-sex marriages.
Sarah Varney reports for KQED.