Same-sex marriages will be allowed to take place in five more states due to a decision by the United States Supreme Court.
Returning from its recess on Monday, the Supreme Court chose not to hear appeals from five states seeking to uphold the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
As a result, Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana will now allow gay marriages, bringing the total number of states which permit them to 24.
The move has been met with criticism by those who believe that the will of American voters has been overruled.
Byron Babione, a spokesman for religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, said: “The people should decide this issue, not the courts”.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) expressed disbelief at what has taken place.
President of NOM, Brian Brown, said: “We are surprised and extremely disappointed that the US Supreme Court has refused to grant review of the same-sex marriage cases pending before them.”
Brown described the decision as “wrong on so many levels” and said that NOM will continue to devote all its energy and resources to “stand for the truth of marriage”.
He said; “the entire idea that marriage can be redefined from the bench is illegitimate. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman”.
Brown continued; “it’s mind-boggling that lower court judges would be allowed to impose the redefinition of marriage in these states, and our highest court would have nothing to say about it”.
He called on Americans to “vigorously contest this development by turning to the political process, starting with the upcoming mid-term elections”.
“We urge voters to hold politicians accountable and demand to know if they will accept the illegitimate act of attempting to redefine marriage”, he added.
It is expected that six more states will permit same-sex marriage following the decision. This would leave 20 states that still prohibit the redefinition of marriage.
Writing for Reuters, Lawrence Hurley, said: “the move by the nine justices to sidestep the contentious issue means there will be no imminent national ruling on the matter”.
Judgments are therefore likely to continue to be made on a state by state basis.