By: Richard Meyer ~Copy Editor~
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Jan. 16 that it will hear arguments challenging samesex marriage bans in four states. The nine justices will hear the arguments beginning in April and are expected to deliver an official ruling in June. The decision will decide if same-sex couples have the right to marry and also if the states that have a ban must recognize marriages that are performed in states where the marriage is legal.
This will mark the fourth time that the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed on gay rights issues in the last 27 years.
The Supreme Court had petitions from couples in four states where there are bans in place: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, representing these states, went against the national trend and upheld the previous laws that would not recognize same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage is legal in nearly twice as many states as it was in October 2014 with 36 states plus Washington D.C. currently recognizing the marriages. The most recent state was Florida, which overturned its law early in January 2015.
The Supreme Court’s decision will come two years after its first ruling in the direction of accepting gay marriage when parts of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act fell in a 5-4 decision. The court ruled that gay couples are entitled to federal benefits equal to those offered to heterosexual couples. The Obama administration has voiced support for same-sex marriage. The administration will be urging the justices to rule in favor of making “marriage equality a reality for all Americans,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.