Same-sex marriage could soon become legal across the entire United States, following Friday’s US Supreme Court decision to hear four marriage equality cases.
The nation’s highest court is expected to rule on whether it’s constitutional for a state to deny same-sex couples the right to marriage or to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages from other US states.
The cases, which emanate from the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, will be consolidated into one matter. The justices are expected to hear oral arguments in April before they most likely make a ruling in June.
The last time the court ruled on the issue was in June 2013, striking down the DOMA law that barred the federal government from recognising same-sex marriages. It also allowed the repeal of a same-sex marriage ban in California.
LGBT activists hope that the court’s upcoming ruling will settle the divisive matter of same-sex marriage once and for all in the US, in which the status of marriage equality differs on a state by state basis.
“Marriage has returned to the US Supreme Court faster than virtually any other issue in American history, and there’s a simple reason for that – committed and loving gay and lesbian couples, their children, and the fair-minded American people refuse to wait a single day longer,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“We’ve reached the moment of truth – the facts are clear, the arguments have been heard by dozens of courts, and now the nine justices of the Supreme Court have an urgent opportunity to guarantee fairness for countless families, once and for all,” he added.
In response to the news, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging it to “make marriage equality a reality for all Americans.”
Explained Holder: “It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans — no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”
Gay and lesbian couples can currently get married in 36 American states, meaning that 70 percent of Americans now live in a state with marriage equality.