Legal challenges to a ballot measure that denied gays the right to marry in California will begin oral arguments on March 5th, the state Supreme Court has announced.

Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote on election day, November 4th.

Since then gay marriages have been banned in the state.

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled against a previous Proposition approved in 2000 that defined marriage in the state as between a man and a woman.

The court ruled that laws that treat people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry as other Californians.

Proposition 8 challenged this ruling by explicitly denying gay people the right to marry.

18,000 same-sex couples got married before Prop 8 passed.

On November 19, 2008, the California Supreme Court granted review in the legal challenges to Proposition 8, and established an expedited briefing schedule.

Dozens of amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs have been filed arguing that Proposition 8 drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California‚Äôs Constitution, and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote.

They call on the California Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.

Leading African American, Latino, and Asian American civil rights groups have filed a brief arguing that Proposition 8 prevents the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of enforcing the equal protection rights of minorities.