Australia’s marriage equality activists have reacted with disappointment to the 6 to 1 California Supreme Court decision to accept the voter-initiated Prop 8 ballot limiting marriage between a man and a woman.

However, legal analysts have interpreted the decision as supportive of gay rights while still accepting the voters’ will. Approximately 18,000 existing same-sex marriages in California will remain valid, and the marriage definition cannot be used to limit marriage-like rights from gay couples, the court said. Deferring to its earlier decision that same-sex couples are entitled to equal rights, the court said California’s civil unions must include all rights entitled to married couples.

Equality California director Marc Solomon said his group would aim for a new vote on the issue in November 2010.

-œThis is a unique moment in time, Solomon told reporters. -œAnd we as a movement need to capture the moment and go back to the ballot.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Peter Furness called on the Rudd Government to follow the lead of the Californian court by recognising those gay and lesbian Australians who married in California while it was allowed.

-œBecause the Marriage Act bans the recognition of overseas same-sex marriages, Australians who marry their same-sex partners in other countries have their legal status and entitlements stripped away when they walk through Australian customs, Furness said.

-œIf it is good enough for the California Supreme Court to uphold the validity of these marriages it should be good enough for Kevin Rudd.

Following a Tribunal ruling in 2007, Australia’s Passport Office now recognises some same-sex marriages where the couple were originally in a heterosexual marriage and one partner has since transitioned gender.

A Galaxy poll conducted in 2007 showed Australians were split on the issue with 57 percent supporting marriage equality.

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