Gay Americans have reacted with anger at the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

The news came as a shock to many who expected the court to rule that a voter-based initiative such as Proposition 8 could not be used to remove the constitutional rights of a minority.

The court also decided, however, that the marriages of the approximately 18,000 same-sex couples who were allowed to marry before the ban will remain legally recognised.

Hundreds of people who gathered outside the court in San Francisco reacted to the 6-1 ruling with chants of “Shame on you.” Around 160 protestors were later arrested and charged with jaywalking.

“It’s nice that my marriage is still intact, but that’s not the point,” Kathleen White told CNN. “The point is that everybody should have the same civil rights across the board.”

The court’s one dissenting judge, Justice Carlos Moreno, wrote that the ruling “is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.”

“This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese. There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation’s largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.”

Proposition 8 was passed by voters in November last year by 52 percent. The initiative by conservative groups reversed an initial court ruling legalising same-sex marriage in California.

The White House has not yet issued an official statement on Tuesday’s court decision. When asked about the ruling Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “Well, I have not talked to the president about it”, adding that Obama’s views on the issue are well known.

It is expected that supporters of same-sex marriage will move to include an anti-Proposition 8 ballot measure in upcoming state-wide elections, next scheduled for November 2, 2010. They will require at least 694,354 signatures to do so.

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