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Romney, Gingrich blast Prop 8 ruling

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks at the Price Hill Chili Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich on Tuesday decried the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for striking down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage -- both of them targeting the judiciary system for invoking what Gingrich described as a "radical overreach" of power.

Prop. 8 was a California ballot measure passed in 2008 that amended the state's constitution to make same-sex marriage illegal. (The California Supreme Court had ruled in 2008 that same-sex couples legally had the right to marry.)

"With today's decision on marriage by the Ninth Circuit, and the likely appeal to the Supreme Court, more and more Americans are being exposed to the radical overreach of federal judges and their continued assault on the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States," Gingrich said in a statement.

He added: "The Constitution of the United States begins with "We the People"; it does not begin with 'We the Judges'. Federal judges need to take heed of that fact. Federal judges are substituting their own political views for the constitutional right of the people to make judgments about the definition of marriage."

The former House speaker, who has argued at length that the president should be able to rein in the judicial branch of the government, included in a related Tweet a link to a blog post in which he recommends that the U.S. "restore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated powers available to the president and Congress to correct, limit, or replace judges who violate the Constitution."

Romney, meanwhile, released a statement castigating "unelected judges" for ignoring "the will of the people of California."

"Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage," Romney said in a statement. "This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values."

Romney emphasized his belief that "marriage is between a man and a woman" and vowed that "as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices."

The Family Research Council, a conservative organization that works at "protecting" marriage from being "redefined" to include same-sex partners, called the ruling "disappointing but not surprising."

"Today's decision was disappointing but not surprising, coming from the most liberal Circuit Court in the country," the organization said in a statement. "This Hollywood-funded lawsuit, which seeks to impose San Francisco values on the entire country, may eventually reach the Supreme Court. This is not about constitutional governance but the insistence of a group of activists to force their will on their fellow citizens."

Despite the decision, gay couples in California will not yet be able to marry legally in the state: The court of appeals left in place a stay from the previous ruling, 18 months ago, which will prevent same-sex marriage from becoming legal in California until the case has made it all the way up the appeals process.

The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case, though the timeline for that process remains unclear.

Nevertheless, many gay rights advocates lauded the decision. In a statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it a "victory for civil rights and for progress for the LGBT community and for all Californians."

"By declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit made a strong statement that laws must not target the LGBT community for discrimination and all of our state's families deserve to enjoy fair and equal treatment under the law," Pelosi said.

On Twitter, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said she was very pleased with the ruling: "We shld all be able to marry the person we love," she wrote.