Calif. high court begins hearing on gay-marriage ban

About a dozen protesters staged themselves outside the state Supreme Court in San Francisco on Tuesday morning, some denouncing homosexuality and others supporting gay rights, as arguments began inside the court on one of the most significant civil rights cases to come before the panel in 60 years.

At issue is the state's definition of marriage as legally between a man and a woman. Only Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage. California's high court is to hear three hours of arguments on the issue Tuesday, and may render an opinion in 90 days.

Dennis Herrera, city attorney of San Francisco, told a morning news conference before oral arguments began that the state is on the "doorstep of history." He said that when the city issued thousands of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in 2004 there was a San Francisco thing. But he told the crowd that the city has a history of championing and being a leader on issues of equality and inclusion.

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