SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The waiting game stretches on for gay and lesbian couples in Utah after the U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday it has taken no action yet on appeals asking it to take up the issue of same-sex marriage.
Utah is one of five states that have asked the high court to review appellate court decisions striking down gay marriage bans. The other states are Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.
There was hope that Thursday could be the day the justices took a case. Instead, the guessing game about when, and if, the Supreme Court will take a case goes on.
The justices are scheduled to meet again Oct. 10 to consider new cases, and decisions about what to hear could be announced then or Oct. 14.
"It's totally up to the court when they are going to take a case and when they're going to let us know," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs in the Utah case. "They know how important this issue is. We just have to be patient."
Some legal scholars speculate the justices might be waiting for rulings pending out of the 6th and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to see if either court upholds a ban.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg addressed this recently at a forum in Minnesota, when she suggested the court might wait for a split among appeals courts that typically triggers Supreme Court review.
In Utah, both sides of the legal fight want the justices to weigh in on the issue. State officials are hoping the justices will disagree with lower courts and uphold a 2004-voter approved ban that they argue ensures that children are raised properly in homes with mothers and fathers.
"Whether they take Utah's case or another state's case, it's an issue that needs to be decided by the Supreme Court so that we all have what we deserve, and that's clarity as to what the law is," said Marty Carpenter, a spokesman for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
The Utah plaintiffs and gay marriage advocates are hopeful the Supreme Court will fall in line with opinions from dozens of federal and appellate court judges who have ruled the bans deprive people of the fundamental right to marry. They vehemently disagree with the notion that children raised by same-sex couples suffer.
Plaintiff Moudi Sbeity said he and his partner, Derek Kitchen, hope the justices take action soon.
"The longer we wait, the more families are harmed," Sbeity said. "At the end of the day, Derek and I just want to get married. We're just waiting."
Associated Press writer Michelle Price contributed to this report.