A federal appeals court ruled today that it will not review a three-judge panel's decision to overturn California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California, before it was ruled unconstitutional last year. Proponents plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That would put battle for same-sex marriage on a national stage.
The ruling comes after a federal court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which says states don't have to recognize gay marriages in other states and defines marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes, is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court could also decide to hear that case next year.
In February, a three-judge panel in California voted 2-1 against the voter-approved gay marriage ban, upholding an earlier decision by Judge Vaughn Walker.
The panel said that by denying same-sex marriage rights, Proposition 8 violated the equal protection clause and due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.The court wrote:
"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."
Prop 8 supporters appealed, asking for a larger panel to review the case, and sponsors say they are eager take the matter before the Supreme Court.
However, The February decision was narrowly written and focused on the measure in California, meaning the high court may not hear the case.
Despite Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional, and that ruling being upheld twice, same-sex couples in California will not be allowed to marry right away.
As long as Prop 8 supporters have a chance to appeal, the measure stands; If the Supreme Court won't hear the case, that would end the process.