A US federal appeals court asked California's top tribunal on Tuesday to help it rule on a challenge by opponents of gay marriages in the western US state. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the question back to California's Supreme Court, asking it to rule on whether anti gay marriage campaigners have the right to challenge a decision last year legalizing gay unions. Supporters of so-called Prop 8 -- a 2008 referendum measure which banned gay marriage in California -- took their fight to the US federal court last month, in the latest stage of a legal saga that could have national implications. Gay rights activists wanted the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a landmark ruling in August last year that overturned a ban on homosexual weddings in California. But the federal appeals court said Tuesday it could not decide the case, and sought advice from California on whether those bringing the action -- as opposed to California authorities -- had the legal right to do so. "We cannot consider this important constitutional question unless the appellants before us have standing to raise it ... It is critical that we be advised of the rights (of those taking the legal action) under California law." In the August ruling, a federal judge said a ban on gays and lesbians tying the knot -- imposed by the 2008 referendum -- was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution. But opponents of gay weddings appealed, and a week later a federal judge agreed to maintain the ban pending the appeals process which started on December 6. Critics argue that California's voters made their intentions known in the November 2008 ballot initiative known as Proposition 8, which imposed the ban on same-sex unions. The proposal passed with a 52 percent majority, only six months after the state's Supreme Court reversed a previous ban on same-sex weddings -- sending gays and lesbians flocking to marry. Some 18,000 homosexual couples tied the knot between May and November that year, when gay weddings were briefly allowed. Experts believe the legal fight is almost certain to end up before the US Supreme Court in around 18 months, once appeals hearings in lower courts have run their course. Currently only the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the US capital Washington, recognize gay marriage.Source: AFP << New Biomarker Identified in Hepatitis C Infection Single Pill a Day Could Keep Heart Attack, Stroke Away >> Recommended Reading Gay Marriage Ban Heads for Legal Battle in California as Judge Overturns Ban A federal judge has overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage, the opening salvo in a high-stakes legal battle expected to take years to resolve. READ MORE Gay Marriage Law Sanctioned by Argentine President Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner signed into law a historic bill that legalizes same-sex marriage for the first time in Latin America. READ MORE August 13 is the Day Set for the First Gay Marriage in Argentina Argentina's first gay marriage is scheduled for August 13th between a 61-year-old man and his 60-year-old partner, officials revealed. READ MORE Himalayan Nation Ready to Approve Gay Marriages Nepal is all set to permit gay marriages and has a gone a step further in promoting gay weddings on Mt.Everest , making it Asia's preferred gay tourism destination. READ MORE Divorce: Pros and Cons Divorce can be traumatic for children and create a sense of insecurity amongst them. Couples should realize that joined parenting is important even after divorce. READ MORE How to Save your marriage You can save your marriage - even when your partner insists on a divorce. READ MORE Is Life Better Staying Single or Getting Married? The stigma linked to staying single is gradually disappearing. More people opt to stay single and many even claim to be happier. But there are both advantages and disadvantages to staying single. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Loram (2 mg) (Lorazepam) Blood Donation - Recipients Fongitar (Zinc Pyrithionone) More News on: How to Save your marriageDivorce: Pros and ConsIs Life Better Staying Single or Getting Married?