Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., holds a gay marriage pride flag while standing in front of the Supreme Court on Nov. 30, 2012 in
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, N.J., holds a gay marriage pride flag while standing in front of the Supreme Court on Nov. 30, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday kept California waiting again on the fate of same-sex marriage in the state, holding off on revealing whether it will tackle the legal questions surrounding gay nuptials.

The high court did not release any orders related to the challenges to California's Proposition 8 and the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage benefits. Instead, the court put the cases on its conference list for Friday, when the justices will further consider how to proceed on the same-sex marriage issues.

The Supreme Court could then release orders on what cases it will take on as soon as Friday, or perhaps Monday. The court could even postpone resolution further. But legal experts say the latest delay is merely an indication the justices are taking their time determining how to approach one of the more historic social questions to reach the court's docket.

The Supreme Court is considering whether to take up an appeal of a lower court decision striking down Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage. If the justices decline to review the decision, it would leave the ruling intact, legalizing gay nuptials in the state. Same-sex couples could be permitted to marry in California within days of such a decision.

The court could also decide to tackle the legal controversy, which would result in a ruling by the end of June on whether states such as California have the right to outlaw gay marriage. Or the justices could put the Proposition 8 case on hold while they review the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal ban on benefits for same-sex couples.


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The Supreme Court is considering a number of lower court decisions declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, including a case out of San Francisco involving a same-sex couple denied federal health benefits. The court is widely expected to take on at least one of the cases challenging the federal law.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.