SCOTUS Will Rule on Gay Marriage This Term

Hundreds of people gather outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC on June 26, 2013 in anticipation of the  ruling on California's Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The US Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a controversial federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in a major victory for supporters of same-sex marriage.The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had denied married gay and lesbian couples in the United States the same rights and benefits that straight couples have long taken for granted.
Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court said Friday that it will take on four cases challenging gay-marriage bans this term, and it will explicitly tackle the question of whether states are constitutionally obligated to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (as well as whether states are required to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere). Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia now perform same-sex marriages, with pro-marriage court rulings in limbo in a handful more. But a split at the appeals level — the sixth circuit decided to uphold bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, where the SCOTUS petitioners live — is likely what prompted the nation’s highest court to weigh in. If it rules for the same-sex couples, the SCOTUS decision would mean marriage equality nationwide, just in time for Pride.