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Backers of California's ban on same-sex marriages asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to overrule a federal appeals court that struck down the measure as unconstitutional, a move that means the bitter, four-year court fight over Proposition 8 could soon be resolved.

Lawyers for the coalition of religious conservative groups that sponsored the voter-approved ban petitioned the Supreme Court to review the lower court's finding that the 2008 amendment to the state constitution violated the civil rights of gay and lesbian Californians. The request had been expected since a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-1 decision earlier this year.

If the high court declines to take the case, it would clear the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. Gay couples could get married in the state for several months before Proposition 8 passed, a right the measure was designed to take away. Same-sex couples still have the rights and benefits of marriage controlled by state law if they register as domestic partners.

The divided appeals court panel cited those conditions, which were unique to California at the time, as grounds for striking down the ban as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's promise of equal protection. But it also went out of its way to state it was not saying similar bans in six other states it oversees were inherently unconstitutional.

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