Supreme Court Could Settle Marriage Equality Fight Once and For All

An announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court late afternoon Friday that it will hear arguments regarding several gay marriages cases brought in four different states is being treated as a momentous development in the fight for complete marriage equality nationwide.

The Court’s announcement on Friday granted review of petitions from a variety of cases in the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee that sought to challenge state bans on same-sex marriage. After a ruling by Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last year overturned lower court rulings which struck down the bans in those states, the Supreme Court had no choice, according to experts, but to take up the cases in order to settle the conflict set up Sixth Circuit. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear all the cases at once now sets the stage for what could be a final resolution regarding complete marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. The hearing of oral arguments is expected to take place in April.

According to reporting by The Advocate:

Due to the varying specifics of the cases that will now be folded into one review by the Court, the order released by the justices instructed the legal teams who will present arguments to focus on two key questions which will set the basis for the court’s final ruling:

Marriage equality and civil liberties advocates reacted positively to the news.

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“We are thrilled the court will finally decide this issue,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. “The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly. Every single day we wait means more people die before they have a chance to marry, more children are born without proper protections, more people face medical emergencies without being able to count on recognition of their spouses. It is time for the American values of freedom and equality to apply to all couples.”

Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, also applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the cases. “Today begins what we hope will be the last chapter in our campaign to win marriage nationwide,” he said.

“After a long journey and much debate, America is ready for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson continued. “But couples are still discriminated against in 14 states, and the patchwork of discrimination harms families and businesses throughout the country. We will keep working hard to underscore the urgency of the Supreme Court’s bringing the country to national resolution, so that by June, all Americans share in the freedom to marry and our country stands on the right side of history.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, also welcomed the development even as she expressed caution when it came to speculating on how the members of the Court might actually rule. “The justices have an opportunity to bring marriage equality to the entire nation — and to end the pain of millions of same-sex couples who are currently denied the right to get married in the state they call home. This truly is history in the making — the question is: will the justices decide to be on the right side of history?”

According to the New York Times:

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