Gay couples will be able to get married in America’s most populous state from June 17th. The California Supreme Court denied requests to delay their landmark decision that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to civil marriage until a state-wide ballot on the issue in November.

Judges voted four to three to reject the delay.

Last month the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples cannot be excluded from marriage.

A poll released earlier in May found that the majority of Californians, 51%, back gay marriage.

43% oppose same-sex marriages in the state.

Only 40% said they would back changing the state constitution to exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage. 54% oppose a change, as does California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The attorneys general of nine US states also applied to the Californian Supreme Court to delay finalising its ruling to legalise gay marriage.

Opponents of the Supreme Court’s decision have collected enough signatures of opposition to force the state to put the issue to voters directly.

Campaigners colected 694,354 signatures, enough for a ballot proposition to be put to California voters on the same day as the US Presidential and Congress elections.

They wish the state’s constitution to define marriage as being “between a man and a woman ”

During the 2006 midterm and 2004 Presidential elections, the issue was also put to voters.