The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday it will tackle the issue of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage.
The nine justices are expected to hear oral arguments in April and deliver a ruling by June.
Supreme Court gay marriage decision could have 2016 impact
The Court had before it petitions from four states – Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan - all in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which recently went against the national trend and upheld gay marriage bans. The court granted petitions for all four states.
Earlier this month Florida became the 36th state in the country, in addition to the District of Columbia, to allow gay marriage.
In October, the court refused to hear several gay marriage cases – but this time is different. The lower federal courts across the country are now divided on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
Jeb Bush calls for ‘respect’ in gay marriage debate
On June 26, 2013 – in its first rulings on gay marriage – the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory to gay rights advocates by rejecting parts of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in a 5-4 decision. The court ruled legally married gay couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as male-female married couples.
However, it stopped short of a nationwide ruling that would have made gay marriage legal in every state.