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Supreme Court May Decide This Month Whether It Will Hear Kentucky's Same-Sex Marriage Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court could decide this month whether it will consider same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky.

Last year, Kentucky same-sex couples challenged the state's constitutional same-sex marriage ban, asking that their marriages from other jurisdictions be recognized. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn sided with the couples. Later in 2014, Heyburn ruled in a separate case that the state must also allow same-sex marriages to be performed in Kentucky. He also issued a stay on the decisions pending appeal.

But last fall the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appealsupheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.

The cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, the court took no action on requests to hear any of the same-sex marriage cases from the 6th Circuit, which is the only appeals court so far to uphold a same-sex marriage ban.

Both the plaintiffs and Gov. Steve Beshear, who appealed Heyburn's decision, have asked the Supreme Court to consider the Kentucky case.

The court could have announced Monday that it would consider the cases—but did not.

That leaves but a few more opportunities for the same-sex marriage issue to be argued in the current term.

It's possible the court could announce a decision on Friday afternoon, or maybe the following Tuesday, said one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Joe Dunman, in an email. The Supreme Court's last conference is Jan. 23.

If the Supreme Court agrees this month to hear the case in the current term, oral arguments could be scheduled for April, Dunman said.  A decision could then come in June.

If not, the court wouldn't consider hearing the case until October—which means a decision wouldn't come until 2016.

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Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.