It’s apparently official, as reported on SCOTUSblog:
Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage. The Court said it would rule on state power to ban gay and lesbian marriage and state power to refuse to recognize such marriages performed out of state. A total of one hour and ninety minutes was set for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.
The Court fashioned the specific questions it is prepared to answer, but they closely tracked the two core constitutional issues that have led to a lengthy string of lower-court rulings striking down state bans. As of now, same-sex marriages are allowed in thirty-six states, with bans remaining in the other fourteen but under court challenge.
In directly related news, Pope Francis today, in the Philippines, made some of his strongest remarks yet against attempts to redefine marriage:
Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past “No” to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family. And to ask the intercession of St Joseph to know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No”….
The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.
That was followed by a strong reiteration from the Vatican spokesman:
During a press briefing later that evening the head of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed to journalists that this “colonization” of which Pope Francis spoke refers in part to gay marriage.
“I think that it is well-known that the perspective of the Church about the family is that the family is based on the union of the marriage of a man and a woman.”
For Catholics, the family is “the union of the man and the woman, and the children that come from this union,” the spokesman added. “If there are persons that desire to have community in other ways… this is not for us a family.”
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, who was on the panel at the press briefing, cited concerns raised during last October’s Synod on the Family by bishops and laypeople, particularly from Africa, about the attempt to use foreign aid to impose Western views of marriage and sexuality.
According to these bishops, foreign aid is “oftentimes is linked to some measures that the receiving country is somehow forced to accept,” the cardinal said. “Some of the conditions for the aid seem to be an acceptance or a welcoming of some views regarding marriage, or sexuality, or what, which could be alien to the vision of the receiving country or culture.”