The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Mississippi, could provide the catalyst for the Supreme Court to decide the gay marriage issue once and for all, nationwide.

And it’s likely, many legal experts believe, bans on gay marriage such as Mississippi’s will fall.

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“I am opposed to same-sex marriage, but I believe the time has come for people of faith in Mississippi to prepare for the overturning of our constitutional ban on it,” said state Rep. Andy Gipson, House judiciary chairman.

Here’s why:

• The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear appeals from five states where federal appeals courts declared same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. This will essentially expand same-sex marriage to 11 states covered by these districts, bringing the total to 30.

• The cases the high court let slide were all federal rulings against gay marriage bans. A ruling from another district appeals court upholding a state’s ban would essentially force the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and deal with conflicting rulings. The conservative Fifth Circuit or Sixth Circuit are the most likely to uphold a same-sex marriage ban.

• The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday agreed to expedite hearing cases challenging Texas’ and Louisiana’s bans on gay marriage. Early this year, a Texas federal judge ruled the ban was unconstitutional, but issued a stay pending the state’s appeal. A Louisiana federal judge recently upheld that state’s ban.

• With the Supreme Court this week allowing the decisions against the state bans to stand, legal experts say it’s unlikely the court would then rule in favor of any state bans.

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