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Supreme Court to make decision about gay marriage bans

Gay marriage petitions from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee will now be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. On Jan. 16, the Supreme Court announced that it planned to make a ruling about whether or not gay couples have a constitutional right to get married. The Supreme Court's decision on the issue will determine whether statewide gay marriage bans will be allowed to continue.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of gay marriage this April. By this June, the nine justices are expected to deliver their verdict. So far, gay marriage is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Other states, including Ohio, have enacted gay marriage bans that were recently upheld in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. If the bans are found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, same-sex custody litigation in Ohio could change drastically.

The Supreme Court made its first ruling about gay marriage on June 26, 2013, when it rejected portions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that gay couples that had been legally married could receive the same federal benefits that are granted to heterosexual married couples. Although the ruling was considered a victory for advocates of gay rights, the decision did not go so far as to make gay marriage legal in every state.

Because Ohio does not yet recognize gay marriage, family law issues involving same-sex couples can be especially complicated. Instead of being heard in family court, same-sex custody matters are heard by a judge in juvenile court. For this reason, a person who is involved in a same-sex custody dispute in Ohio might want to speak with an attorney who is familiar with same-sex custody litigation.

Source: CNN, "Supreme Court agrees to take on same-sex marriage issue," Mary Kay Mallonee, Jan. 16, 2015

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