The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the Constitution allows individual states to ban gay marriage. The decision comes three months after the court refused to hear appeals from seven states where statewide bans on same-sex marriage had been invalidated.

From the New York Times:

Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court's failure to act in October, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry.

The pace of change on same-sex marriage, in both popular opinion and in the courts, has no parallel in the nation's history.

Based on the court's failure to act in October and its last three major gay rights rulings, most observers expect the court to establish a nationwide constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

The court will hear arguments for four cases—from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee— in April and will announce its decision in late June.

[Image via AP]