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Will Supreme Court act in wake of recent same-sex marriage ruling?

The seeming inclination of the United States Supreme Court to avoid participating in a debate on gay marriage is being openly challenged by recent developments that might force the court's justices to now play a prominent role in what is a national fissure.

At the outset of the court's current term earlier this year, the nation's highest judicial tribunal summarily announced that it would not hear cases from a number of states involving same-sex marriage bans that various federal appellate courts had struck down.

Many commentators viewed that stance as a clear victory for proponents of gay marriage, given the court's refusal to entertain questions from state officials favoring the legality of marriages between only heterosexual couples. Marriage bans are currently in effect in 15 states, including Arkansas.

Things now seem to have materially changed, though, in the wake of a federal court's appellate decision last week that runs directly counter to earlier federal court outcomes on the matter. In a 2-1 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Arkansas is in the 8th Circuit) held that same-sex marriage bans in multiple states under its jurisdiction are constitutional.

That sudden judicial salvo and evidence of a clear split among federal judges might now force the Supreme Court to enter the fray. As a recent article on the matter notes, the court "won't be able to duck the issue this time."

Voices on both sides of the debate openly welcome the court's input. One gay rights advocate says that the country "is ready for a national resolution," while an opponent of same-sex marriage counters that, "Every day that goes by is a travesty.

The court's decision regarding the matter is obviously of seminal importance. If it decides to take one of the cases ruled upon by the 6th Circuit, a ruling could issue next summer.

We will keep readers informed of developments in the matter.

Source: USA TODAY, "Both sides eager for Supreme Court fight on gay marriage," Richard Wolf, Nov. 7, 2014

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