Opponents of same-sex marriage were quick Friday to blast the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, saying the court overstepped its authority.
ProtectMarriage.com was the leading proponent of Proposition 8, the measure that banned same-sex marriage in California until it was overturned.
"We're not surprised, and we recognize that 31 states where the people have chosen to vote in traditional marriage, the protection of man-woman marriage, should be extremely disappointed and asking what happened to their rights, the rights of the democratic process and people," Ron Prentice of ProtectMarriage.com said.
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The vote was narrow -- 5-4 -- but Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion was clear and firm: "The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry." The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation's social norms in recent years.
As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted same-sex marriages.
It's a decision that should have been left to states, opponents said.
"Today's decision does grave injury to the basic concept that the people -- not the courts -- make the law," ProtectMarriage.com general counsel, Andy Pugno, said in a statement. "A bare majority of the Supreme Court has abruptly cut off this ongoing debate, unilaterally imposing its view of what's good for society by suddenly discovering a new constitutional right that almost no one would have imagined just a few years ago.
"The 'separation of powers' they taught us in grade school is now dangerously out of balance, and it's time to remind the government that all constitutional power ultimately resides in the consent of the governed -- not in kings, dictators or judges."
Jim Domen of the California Family Council, said the group "will continue to uphold the biblical truth about marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman."
"And my encouragement to pastors and the church at large is to uphold truth about marriage between a man and a woman," he said.
Four of the court's justices also weren't cheering. The dissenters accused their colleagues of usurping power that belongs to the states and to voters, and short-circuiting a national debate about same-sex marriage.
"This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.
"If you are among the many Americans -- of whatever sexual orientation -- who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision," Roberts said. "But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."
Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage as "this court's threat to American democracy." He termed the decision a "judicial putsch." Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.
Several religious organizations criticized the decision and a group of pastors in Texas vowed to defy it.
Kennedy said nothing in the court's ruling would force religions to condone, much less perform, weddings to which they object. And he said the couples seeking the right to marry should not have to wait for the political branches of government to act.