US: Supreme Court delays action on same-sex marriage appeals

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The US Supreme Court took no action on Friday on deciding whether to formally accept a series of appeals over the issue of same-sex marriage.

The judges held a behind-closed-doors meeting to decide whether to accept the cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the laws in a number of states, particularly California, that ban gay couples from marrying.

But without any explanation, the court said it had nothing to report this evening on the appeals. Some commentators suggest this is because it needed further time to consider the complex array of constitutional issues to be decided.

The Supreme Court judges are due to hold their next private conference on Friday of next week where a decision on whether to accept these cases may be made.

The US Supreme Court was expected to decide today whether to deal now with whether the bans on gay couples marrying across many parts of the United States are unconstitutional.

The court could still decide instead to focus on whether Congress can prevent gay couples who are married in states that permit it should receive federal benefits that straight couples are entitled to.

If it in the ends it decides to review the specifics of a state’s ban, it is likely to focus on the dispute over Proposition 8, the voter initiated constitutional amendment that banned gay couples from marrying in California. It has been ruled as a ban that breaks the Californian constitution already, although it is the subject of an appeal.

If the court did make a decision in favour of same-sex marriage in one state, such as California, it would likely overturn the bans in 31 states.