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Big same-sex marriage decision could come this year

A recent move by the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that this year could be an incredibly eventful one when it comes to same-sex marriage law. What was the court's move? The court has decided to take on a group of cases regarding same-sex marriage.

The cases involve four states in the 6th Circuit that have bans on same-sex marriage: Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The cases involve challenges to these bans. Late last year, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that states can have same-sex marriage bans. 

Last Friday, the Supreme Court announced it would be hearing this group of cases. It looks as though the court will be hearing the cases together. The court said it would be looking at two issues in its hearing of these cases:

  • Whether same-sex couples have a right to marriage under the Constitution.
  • Whether states have a Constitutional obligation to give legal recognition to same-sex marriages issued by other states. 

These two issues get to the heart of whether states can have same-sex marriage bans. 

Currently, oral arguments for this group of cases are scheduled for April. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will make a decision in the matter by June's end.

What decision the court ultimately makes could have incredibly wide-ranging impacts in the area of family law. If the court rules that the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry and thus that same-sex marriage bans are inherently unconstitutional, it would open up same-sex marriage in all states. On the flip side, if it rules that state same-sex marriage bans are not barred by the Constitution, same-sex partners here in Texas and other states where same-sex marriage bans are in place may, for the foreseeable future, continue to not have access to the same sort of family law legal options that heterosexual couples do.

Of course, the Supreme Court could potentially make a decision that falls somewhere in between these two poles. An example of such a ruling would be a ruling that states are allowed to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but are required to recognize marriage licenses that other states issue to same-sex couples. Such an in-the-middle decision could have some major, and perhaps somewhat unpredictable, effects.

Where do you think the Supreme Court will land in its upcoming decision on this matter? 

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