USSC same sex activists
Same sex marriage activists at the U.S. Supreme Court. Reuters

Same-sex marriage remains legal in California, as the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday decided it does not have jurisdiction to take up California's Proposition 8, which recognizes marriage as only between a man and a woman. The decision came in a 5-4 ruling, leaving a lower court's decision intact, and so a ban on same-sex marriage remains unconstitutional.

That type of marriage in the state, therefore, will likely resume soon.

California had refused to go to court and defend the law, leaving its supporters to step in. However, the high court said Proposition 8 backers didn’t have the standing to do so.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.

“Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal,” he continued. “The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”

The Justices were called on to issue an opinion in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the Proposition 8 amendment to the state constitution. Prop 8 was a ballot initiative passed in that state in 2008, allowing marriage only between heterosexual couples. More than 52 percent of California voters approved the proposition. The following year, a California District Court ruled to prevent the enforcement of Prop 8 because it violated equal protection and due process clauses contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit Court also agreed with this ruling.

Those defending the same-sex marriage ban argue that California and other states should decide for themselves whether they want to allow gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.