same sex marriage case
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case in April that may decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide. Pictured, a boy holds up a sign among thousands of revelers at Castro Street in San Francisco, after the court delivered rulings on California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, June 26, 2013. Reuters/Noah Berger

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court in April will hear a case that could settle the same-sex marriage debate, if it chooses to. This could be a historic move by the court, which laid the foundation for national legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013 when it struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The court’s ruling on DOMA in the United States vs. Windsor case provided the precedent for several lower federal courts to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage. But at the same time the justices struck down DOMA, they refused to issue a ruling on California's Proposition 8 that would have legalized it around the country, although they did let Prop 8, a gay marriage ban passed by the voters in 2008, be struck down.

The court has now agreed to hear four petitions regarding same-sex marriage, according to SCOTUS blog. The states that will now get a hearing before the justices are Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, according to the order from the court. A ruling is likely near the end of the court's current session in June.

The court said it’s interested in answering two questions: "1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?"

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The most recent added to the list was Florida, which began issuing same-sex marriage licenses at the beginning of January.