After long declining to decide this issue, the U.S. Supreme Court announced last week that in April it will hear cases to determine whether gay marriage bans in four states are constitutional. The justices will consider two related questions: whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Currently, 36 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, allow gay marriage. Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee are the four states where the federal appeals court overseeing those states upheld a same-sex marriage ban in November. In the other ten states, gay marriage is still prohibited. In most of those state, anti-gay marriage laws have been struck down by lower courts, but the bans remain in effect since appeals are still pending.
After years of developing as a “patchwork” of laws at the state level, the Supreme Court’s decisions are expected to bring uniformity and clarity to this area of the law. The court’s decision is expected in late June.