California’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a landmark case which could legalise same-sex marriage in the state.

The case was brought to the court by the city of San Francisco and three separate groups of plaintiffs representing 23 couples from Los Angeles and San Francisco who want the right to marry.

The court heard arguments from those for and those against legalising same-sex marriage for over three hours and is expected to make a judgment within three months.

The hearing is the culmination of events that began in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued around 4 000 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples which were later declared invalid by the courts.

While California offers gay and lesbian couples many similar rights to those held by married heterosexuals, Massachusetts is the only state in the US to have legalised same-sex marriage.

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