The Supreme Court on Monday will decide whether same-sex couples in Massachusetts can marry.
The decision, which is expected by the end of the year, could set a precedent for other states where same-day marriage is legal, which would be in a lot of other states, including California, New York and Vermont.
The ruling comes as the federal government has moved to block states from implementing gay marriage bans.
The court is split 4-4 between liberal Justice Anthony Kennedy and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, with the current justices all on the conservative side.
The court’s decision on the case will be heard by the conservative-majority court on June 6.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs last month in a case brought by a gay couple who wanted to marry in Massachusetts, but the Supreme Judicial Commission disagreed, ruling in favor a lawsuit filed by a group of gay couples.
The commission filed suit on behalf of the state’s gay couples, arguing that the law banning same-night marriage violates their religious liberty.
The case before the court involves two gay men who are members of a church and the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, arguing the state should not have discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation.
The justices said Monday that they were inclined to allow gay marriage in Massachusetts but could not rule on the issue because the state is a party to the lawsuit.
The ruling could lead to other states including California and Vermont, which have both legalized gay marriage, to follow suit, with Massachusetts possibly joining the list of states that have banned gay marriage.
California’s Proposition 8, which legalized same-gender marriage, was struck down by the Supreme State Supreme Court in 2015.
The Supreme Court has previously said the U.S. Constitution protects religious freedom, but has not yet ruled on whether same sex marriage is constitutionally protected.
In the case before Monday, the commission sought to stop the state from enforcing the ban.
The state argued that gay marriage violates the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same- sex marriages performed elsewhere.
The state, which also is a member of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, argues that its ban violates the U