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When will the US Supreme Court rule on same-sex marriage?

Nick Duffy June 18, 2015

Equality activists are waiting for an imminent ruling from the US Supreme Court on same-sex marriage.

The highest court in the US is set to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, after hearing ‘mega-case’ Obergefell v. Hodges.

The nine Supreme Court justices are attempting to resolve a ‘split’ in lower courts on the issue – and as such could decide on the issue once and for all for the entire country.

The Supreme Court does not advertise in advance which days it will announce decisions on, leaving the international media waiting for the ruling.

The justices do need to settle the issue before its term ends – meaning that a ruling is expected by the end of June at the latest.

Supreme Court experts are anticipating a decision towards the end of the time period, possibly on the term’s last day on June 29 or 30.

Persistent rumours that the court will rule earlier have so far failed to materialise into anything concrete – with SCOTUSblog insisting “we just don’t know”.

When the court does rule, the decision may not be as clear as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on same-sex marriage – as it is simultaneously trying to settle whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and whether states are required to recognise marriages from elsewhere.

This means that a tight ruling from the court could lead to one of three potential situations: same-sex marriage is found to be a constitutional right, and is legalised everywhere; same-sex marriage is not found to be a constitutional right, but all states must recognise them; or same-sex marriage is not found to be a constitutional right, and states are able to enforce bans if they want to.

Lambda Legal, which has spearheaded litigation on same-sex marriage, has created an info-graphic explaining the possibilities (click to enlarge):

Given the same nine justices reached a 5-4 ruling in favour of equality in 2013’s United States v Windsor, which found parts of the Defence of Marriage Act unconstitutional, LGBT activists are hopeful for one of the first two outcomes.

Those looking for clues on the ruling have pointed towards the “good mood” of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most pro-gay justices on the court, who seemed very cheerful at a recent public appearance.

She cryptically said during a Q&A session: “The court is not in a popularity contest, and it should never be influenced by today’s headlines, by the weather of today… but inevitably it will be affected by the climate of the era.

“I think that’s part of the explanation of why the gay rights movement has advanced to where it is today… the climate of the era.”

More: Anthony M Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, Chief Justice of the United States, civil partnership, civil union, Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan, equal marriage, Gay, gay weddings, John G Roberts Jr, lesbian, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Notorious RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, same sex weddings, Samuel Anthony Alito Jr, sonia sotomayor, Stephen G Breyer, supreme court, Union, US, wedding

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