A California appeals court has dealt gay marriage supporters a severe blow after upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriages with a 2-1 vote.

This latest defeat, following similar rulings in New York and Washington, supports California’s 1977 law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the court’s decision stated that the power to define marriage in a democratic society “rests in the people and their elected representatives,” not in the courts.

According to the Associated Press, in reversing the March 2005 ruling of a San Francisco trial judge, the First District Court of Appeal agreed with the state’s attorney general, who argued that California’s ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gays and lesbians because of the state’s strong domestic partner law.

Couples who register as domestic partners have the same rights as married spouses in California except the ability to file joint income taxes.

The ruling does not guarantee, however, that same-sex couples will not ultimately be able to get married in California. Gay marriage advocates told the AP beforehand they would appeal to the California Supreme Court if the intermediate court did not decide in their favour.

© 2006 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.