Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on Tuesday declined to stop a new law allowing gay marriage in Washington, D.C., clearing the way for the district to begin handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Gay marriage opponents, led by Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the law from taking effect, until the Court could decide whether to take a case in which they are arguing that D.C. residents should be able to vote on the issue in a public referendum.

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