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Supreme Court to Consider 5 Gay Marriage Cases at Fall Conference

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for the opening conference of its October 2014 term, the Court is set to consider whether or not to hear cases from five states dealing with the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The cases -- from Wisconsin, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Indiana -- will be among the first cases considered by the Court when justices meet on September 29, reports USA Today.

Does this mean the Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage?

Court May Take Action or Choose to Wait

While the Supreme Court already has a number of cases on its docket for the October 2014 term, the Court traditionally uses the opening conference to review new cases that may have come up during the Court's recess, granting certiorari to the ones it chooses to hear.

Although the Court has agreed to consider the five same-sex marriage cases at its fall conference, it may choose to wait and not to hear any of the cases during this term. The Court may also choose to hear only some of them, or it may choose to hear all of them. Whatever the Court decides, it won't likely be known until the first day of argument, October 6.

Same-Sex Marriage Cases

The Court is being encouraged by both sides of the same-sex marriage debate to take up the issue this term. Since the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal ban on recognizing same sex marriage, all 31 states that still have laws prohibiting or refusing to recognize same-sex marriage have seen legal challenges to their state's law.

These include the five now being considered by the Supreme Court. The Court surprised many when it included among the cases a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued less than two weeks earlier. In that decision, the 7th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that found Indiana and Wisconsin's same-sex marriage prohibitions unconstitutional.

However, same-sex marriage advocates haven't gone completely undefeated. A Tennessee state judge recently upheld that state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

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