(Adds that court may take up gay marriage issue in the future)
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took no action on five pending cases that could lead to a ruling on whether states may ban gay marriage.
The cases were not mentioned in a list describing action on pending cases that the court issued following the nine justices’ usual behind-closed-doors meeting to discuss cases before them.
The move does not necessarily mean the court will not take up the issue this term. The justices often delay acting on cases the first time they are discussed in their private sessions. An announcement on whether the court will hear the cases could come as soon as next week.
If the court were to take up one or more of the cases, it would then issue a ruling that would determine whether 14 remaining state bans will be struck down. Gay marriage is currently legal in 36 states.
The court in October decided not to take up the issue, but a November ruling by a regional federal appeals court based in Cincinnati upheld gay marriage bans in four states.
That ruling was the first by one of the nation’s regional appeals courts that did not strike down state gay marriage bans as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law.
Friday was the first possible day that the court could have announced it was hearing appeals related to the Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Louisiana bans. (Editing by Will Dunham)