Supreme Court declines to take up two more gay rights cases
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A day after deciding two major cases on gay marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Thursday to take up two more cases on the issue.
The cases concerned Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage, and an Arizona law that denies state benefits to domestic partners.
The court, which rejects the vast majority of cases that come before it, declined to hear the cases without comment.
The action means an appeals court ruling striking down the Arizona law stays in effect, while litigation over the Nevada law will continue.
The cases, submitted months ago, were likely on hold while the court considered the other two cases it decided Wednesday. In those rulings, the justices struck down a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex married couples and avoided deciding the constitutionality of a 2008 California law that banned gay marriage.
The Arizona case concerns a law that limits health benefits to employees' spouses and dependents, thereby excluding domestic partners, including those in same-sex relationships. Gay marriage is not recognized in Arizona.
Before the law was enacted via a ballot initiative in November 2008, the state had for several months allowed same-sex domestic partners to receive health benefits.
Gay and lesbian state employees sued before the new law was due to go into effect in January 2011, saying it violated their equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution. Continued...