Gay rights and other organizations, anxiously awaiting Supreme Court action on an array of same-sex marriage petitions, will have to wait a little longer. The justices emerged from their Friday conference without any word on whether they will take up one of the most important civil rights issues in a decade.
The justices had 10 petitions for review on their Friday conference list. In anticipation of some action on one or more of the petitions, same-sex marriage advocates and opponents had prepared teleconferences and other means of getting out a quick reaction.
Listing a petition for a particular conference is not a guarantee of immediate action by the Court. With 10 petitions coming from three federal appellate courts and several district courts, the justices may have needed more time to decide not just whether to step into the controversial issue, but which petition or petitions offered the best vehicle for resolving the constitutional questions raised.
The Court is expected to grant review in at least one of the petitions challenging Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Review is likely because two federal appellate courts—the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First and Second Circuits—have held that Section 3 of the act is unconstitutional as applied to same-sex couples legally married under their state laws. That section defines marriage for all federal purposes as between one man and one woman. An estimated 1,000 federal laws, ranging from tax to employment benefits, are affected by the definition.