California’s Supreme Court has upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, disappointing gay rights campaigners across the USA, who took to the streets in solidarity.
The California Council of Churches (CCC) immediately condemned the Court’s decision.
“By allowing the [narrow] religious views of some faith communities to be imposed on all faith communities, our religious liberty has been severely eroded,” said CCC executive director, the Rev Dr Rick Schlosser.
“All relationships and families deserve equal protection and equal rights under the law,” he added.
Same-sex marriage licences were introduced in California on 16 June 2008 and banned five months later, on 16 November. During this time 18,000 gay and lesbian couples were married. The Supreme Court has confirmed that their marriages are legal.
"It feels bittersweet, but much more bitter than sweet," said Sharon Papo, who married Amber Weiss on the first day that same-sex marriage licences were introduced.
"I feel very uncomfortable being part of a separate class of citizens. We're not going to rest until marriage equality is restored for all people in California."
While the California decision is a major setback, campaigners say that the tide over equality is still swinging in their direction, with surprising gains in unexpected states like Iowa and an administration well disposed to equal treatment.
Christians working for equality before the law and dignity for LGBT people are also gaining in confidence, rebutting the idea that only 'liberals' favour social justice or that the moral tension within the churches should be used as the framework for determining the legal situation in the country as a whole.