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Washington (AFP) – The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear gay marriage cases from five states, opening the door to more same-sex weddings while putting off a nationwide decision on the hot-button issue.

The court opted not to take up cases in five states — Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma — in which state-level bans on same-sex marriage were deemed unconstitutional.

Marriages in those states had been on hold pending the high court’s decision on whether to hear the cases.

Nineteen states already recognize marriage equality, after the Supreme Court last year ruled that under federal law, wedded same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexual ones.

The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay rights organization in Washington, said Monday’s development meant that same-sex couples in the five states “will soon be able to legally marry.”

The court also left in place rulings in three federal judicial districts, or circuits, “meaning couples in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming will soon be able to marry as well,” it said.

“Today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.

But Griffin cautioned that “a complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws” remains, including state-level bans on gay marriage.

“The only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality and we recommit to ourselves to securing that ultimate victory as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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