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US Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage

January 17, 2015

The highest court in the United States is set to decide on cases from four states on the issue of marriage equality. The decision could lead to historic nationwide approval of same-sex marriage.

Symbolbild Homoehe
Image: Reuters

The Supreme Court of the United States announced Friday that it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have the right to marry under the constitution, setting the stage for a pivotal ruling on the civil rights issue.

The case will be argued in April and a decision is expected in June. The justices will consider two key questions: Does the Constitution require states to issue marriages licenses to same-sex couples? And must states recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere?

The Obama administration has stated that it will push for the court to decide in favor of extending homosexual unions nationwide.

"We expect to file (a) friend-of-the-court brief that will urge (the) Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans," attorney general Eric Holder said in a tweet posted by a department spokesman.

The appeals come from gay and lesbian plaintiffs in four states where same-sex marriage is banned, namely Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. A federal appeals court upheld these bans in November, reversing earlier decisions of lower courts.

Since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, similar laws have swept across the country, with the number of states where homosexual marriage is permitted nearly doubling in the last three months to reach a total of 36 nationwide.

Ten states besides the four involved in the case also have outright prohibitions on homosexual unions, including Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, although all these states have court cases on the issue pending.

In a landmark decision in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Since then a patchwork legalization has spread across the US, with Florida becoming the most recent state to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples earlier this month.

With a few exceptions, states that have refused to marry same-sex couples have been challenged and defeated in court.

es/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)