The state Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, but also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed. The vote was 6 to 1.
The decision Tuesday rejected an argument from gay rights activists that the ban revised the California constitution's equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature's approval.
The announcement of the decision caused outcry among a sea of demonstrators who gathered in front of the San Francisco courthouse awaiting the ruling. Some supporters of gay rights began to boo and chant, "Shame on you."
Dozens of people also blocked the intersection of Grove and Van Ness. Police Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said the protesters were arrested for being outside a crosswalk and failing to obey an officer.
Hundreds of demonstrators again gathered Tuesday evening in front of San Francisco City Hall in response to the state Supreme Court's ruling upholding Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
The demonstration, organized by the group Marriage Equality, was scheduled to include a march to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument at Yerba Buena Gardens for a 7 p.m. rally.
Tomioka said police will maintain a high profile during the protest, which follows an earlier demonstration in which some 160 people were arrested after blocking an intersection.
She said 157 adults were arrested, three juveniles were cited and released to the care of their parents, and one demonstrator was taken into custody but then released for medical reasons.
As of mid-afternoon the intersection had been cleared and traffic was moving through normally.
"Today, even though it seems like a really high number (of arrests), it was a peaceful demonstration," Tomioka said.
In its ruling, the court rejected three lawsuits in which same-sex couples and local governments claimed the measure could not be passed simply as an initiative because it was a constitutional revision rather than an amendment.