A calculated, and once criticized, legal strategy to move the issue of gay marriage quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court culminated in victory on Wednesday as the justices effectively cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California.

A divided court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., held that the proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, lacked standing to appeal a federal district judge’s ruling that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution. The Proposition 8 ballot initiative committee had intervened to defend it when state officials declined.

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