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Court opts to let gay marriages go ahead

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a bid to freeze last month's ruling legalizing gay marriage, paving the way for same-sex couples to begin walking down the aisle as soon as June 17.

Moving swiftly, the court turned away a request to stay the ruling until after the November election, when voters will consider a ballot measure that would change the state Constitution to again outlaw same-sex weddings.

Justices were divided 4-3, the same split that unfolded when the gay-marriage case was decided in May. Conservative groups, joined by 11 other states, asked the court to reopen the case, a move opposed by civil rights groups, San Francisco city officials and California's attorney general, Jerry Brown.

The California Supreme Court found the state's ban on same-sex weddings unconstitutional in a 4-3 ruling that reverberated across the country. State officials have since created new marriage licenses and announced they will be set to handle gay marriages June 17, the day after the Supreme Court's ruling becomes final.

Conservative organizations had argued that the ruling should not go into effect until after the election because of the uncertainty surrounding same-sex marriages expected to take place between now and November.

Civil rights lawyers have vowed to challenge the ballot measure if it is approved by voters.