WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday said it will hear oral arguments on April 28 on whether states can ban gay marriage, addressing a hot social issue in what promises to yield one of the justices' most important rulings of the year.
The nine justices will hear an extended 150-minute argument in cases concerning same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The court will decide whether same-sex marriage bans are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. A ruling is due by the end of June.
There are currently 37 states where gay marriage has been allowed to proceed, although a legal battle is ongoing in Alabama, with the state's top court putting it on hold. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)