(POLITICO) — For gay rights advocates celebrating Tuesday’s same-sex marriage ruling, it’s not all good news.

By overturning California’s Proposition 8 but stopping short of declaring a federal constitutional right for gays to marry, the Ninth Circuit dashed hopes it would spur a major national debate on the issue and nudge President Barack Obama into an election-year embrace of same-sex marriage rights.

That’s a key nuance: The court said Californiahad no acceptable reason to take those rights away once they’d been granted, but dodged whether the state would have been obliged to recognize same-sex marriages if it hadn’t already done so.

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