SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Supreme Court says it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution.
Currently 36 states, and the District of Columbia, allow gay couples to get married. Now the Supreme Court is saying it's time to rule as a nation.
If the Supreme Court sides with the couples who are appealing, we are going to see a landmark civil rights decision. We haven't seen one since 1967 when the Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriages. The case was Loving vs. Virginia.
The issue of same sex marriages returns to the Supreme Court. The justices will review cases in four states that are appealing a ban on same-sex marriages. This time they seem to be saying it may be time to rule as a nation.
The four cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee will be consolidated and heard in April. It involves couples who lost their appeals to marry or to have their marriages recognized in those states.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has been at the forefront of the legal battle for marriage equality for the past 10 years.
"It is an issue that needs to be settled once and for all and I'm very confident that it will be and I do believe this will be the end of it," said Herrera.
Currently only 14 states ban same-sex marriages.
Kris Perry was the plaintiff behind the defeat of Proposition 8 which then cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California.
"When states are applying different standards to different Americans, some are getting access to something, some are not," said Perry.
So the question before the justices will be do gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry or do states have the right to ban them.
Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good welcomes the opportunity to debate the matter once again.
"We are so pleased that the Supreme Court is going to give people of California and other states their day in court for their right to define marriage between a man and a woman," said May.
Many in San Francisco's Castro District believe this will be the most significant ruling ever on gay rights.
"It's about time, it's the right decision. It should be across the board," said Martha Rose of San Francisco.
Jason Mannino believes in same-sex marriages but wished the Supreme Court had not stepped in.
"When things are forced there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to change people's belief's system," said Mannino.
The case will be argued in April and a decision is expected in late June. Regardless of what happens then, California's recognition of same-sex marriages cannot be overturned.