BY CURTIS TATE, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS
No current court case will result in same-sex marriage nationwide, legal experts say, and the best near-term outcome for supporters will be that some states allow it, and the federal government will defer to each state on the question of who is married and who isn't.
And in the meantime, opponents of gay marriage vow to take the issue directly to voters - and the ballot box is the one place where they haven't lost.
"I think the country is likely to be divided on this issue for a long time," said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University.
Increasingly, courts and state legislatures have decided that same-sex couples shouldn't be treated differently from opposite-sex couples. It's an incremental process, playing out state by state, reflecting the feelings of a changing but still divided public.
On Thursday, the Maryland legislature approved a bill to legalize gay marriage. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, said he would sign it, making Maryland the eighth state to give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.