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Court mum on appeals court ruling on gay marriage

WASHINGTON (BP) — The U.S. Supreme Court made no announcement Monday (Jan. 12) about whether it would review an appeals court decision on the volatile issue of same-sex marriage.

It appeared an order regarding a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on gay marriage might be issued after the justices held a private conference Jan. 9. Since it took no action, the high court may consider the cases in that opinion during its conference Jan. 16.

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit, which is based in Cincinnati, became in November the first federal appeals court to rule states could limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman. Four other appeals courts had previously invalidated state laws that prohibited gay marriage. The Sixth Circuit’s decision upheld marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

On Monday, the Supreme Court did issue an order in another appeal regarding same-sex marriage. The justices denied without comment review of a federal judge’s decision upholding Louisiana’s law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. In so doing, they rejected an effort to bypass an appeals court.

The Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans has the Louisiana ruling under consideration. A three-judge panel of that court heard oral arguments Jan. 9 in the case, as well as appeals from Mississippi and Texas.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states, nearly tripling the 13 states where it was legal just 18 months ago. It also is legal in the District of Columbia.

If the Supreme Court rules on the issue this term, gay marriage could be legal throughout the country by the time it adjourns this summer. Or states could maintain their authority historically to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

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