The US Supreme Court has announced plans to review gay marriage legislation.
The highest court in the United States will consider whether the stipulations of the US constitution mean that same sex couples must be allowed to marry wherever they wish, regardless of current state laws.
Currently only 36 of the 50 US states permit gay marriage, with the remainder insisting on traditional male-female unions. Consequently same sex marriages conducted in one state may not be recognised in others.
In November, the Supreme Court declined to review the legal status of same sex marriage in five states – Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Utah and Virginia –where bans on the practice had previously been overturned in the lower courts on the grounds that they were in breach of the Constitution.
However, the Justices have now announced their intention to review gay marriage bans still in force in five other states – Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. They will conduct oral hearings on the legal issues in April, with a ruling expected by the time the current Supreme Court term ends in June.
Earlier this week, President Obama described gay marriage as a “civil right” during his annual State of the Union address.