Looking Out: Same-sex marriage may be headed back to the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is meeting on Monday for the first time since June, and could make a decision to hear a new same-sex marriage case.

On the justices' agenda for the closed-door conference are appeals to cases in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, won by gay couples that favor a Supreme Court decision on their lower court victories.

Four out of nine justices would have to vote to take up any particular case, and they are under no obligation to do so and could hold off on deciding whether to consider one of the cases until a later conference.

Lower courts have been flooded with challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage ever since June of 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. With new case precedent, many of the lower court judges hearing those challenges decided in favor of the gay and lesbian couples who brought them.

Lots of people are talking about what might happen if the Supreme Court takes up a new case that was decided in a lower court with their decision on DOMA as a reference point. It's the American legal system in a loop.

We might have to wait, though.

For instance, in 2012, the justices waited until December before deciding to take up the case that led to the fall of DOMA (and another on California's Proposition 8).

The justices could decide not to take up the same-sex cases, as well, although it is extra encouragement that the states and the lesbian and gay couples in the cases both are looking for a decision at the nation's highest level.

Aren't we all?

Elsewhere in the world of LGBT news: 

- Next Wednesday, Maryland's new anti-discrimination law protecting transgender people in employment and housing goes into effect, after a long fight by LGBT advocates.

- As you may have heard, Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down.  His term was historic in a number of ways -- including that he was the first African-American to fill the nation's top law enforcement post. But as some have noted, Holder will also be remembered for his stances on gay rights issues.

- If you missed it here earlier this week, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore is searching for a new executive director, and several community members grilled a leading contender for the job with questions at an at times contentious interview the other night. Here's our write-up about the event.

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