The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday announced it will hear four cases on the issue of same-gender marriage equality. The four cases, which do not include any cases from North Carolina, will be heard this term, with arguments likely in April and a decision as soon as this summer.

The cases are from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, four states which had their marriage bans upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That circuit’s decision split with others, including the Fourth Circuit, which overturned anti-LGBT marriage laws. In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits. That decision paved the way for North Carolina to open marriage to same-gender couples later the same week.

North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders have been seeking to reverse the rulings here. Just this week, they asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, hoping to bypass the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme Court has not responded to that request.

Advocates in North Carolina are looking forward to the Supreme Court hearings this year.

“This is the year the Supreme Court can finally end the pain and confusion facing countless same-sex couples living in states still burdened with discriminatory anti-marriage laws, as well as help silence those in states like ours who still wish to undermine the commitment of loving, married same-sex couples at every opportunity,” Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said in a release.

Sgro added, “While our work is far from over in North Carolina, we look forward to a Supreme Court decision in favor of the freedom to marry as a historic and important milestone on the road to full equality under the law for all LGBT North Carolinians.”

The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality, said Friday that she is “confident” the high court will rule in LGBT couples’ favor.

“It’s clear that no valid legal arguments exist to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. For that reason we are confident the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution – no matter which of the 50 states or territories they reside in,” Beach-Ferrara said.

The Campaign for Southern Equality assisted with one of the four cases seeking marriage equality in North Carolina, conducting the public education campaign accompanying a case brought by the United Church of Christ and several diverse members of the clergy and couples. The group is plaintiff to a marriage case in Mississippi.

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Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.