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Supreme Court does not act on gay marriage cases

The Supreme Court took no action on the 10 gay marriage cases.

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A gay pride and an American flag hang from a shoulder bag during a demonstration. The US Supreme Court, on November 30, 2012, is considering whether to take on any of the 10 petitions related to the constitutionality of gay marriage. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Supreme Court met privately on Friday to decide whether it would consider one of the 10 petitions regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday afternoon that the court took no action on cases related to gay marriage.

The Associated Press reported earlier that the court might defer the question for another time and focus on a narrower issue: whether Congress can bar legally married gay Americans from federal benefits that are available to married couples.

According to NBC News, the 10 cases before the court include some related to marriage equality, some pertaining to health insurance benefits and others including challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

DOMA is a 1996 congressional law that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman for federal purposes, CNN noted. That means that federal taxes, Social Security, pensions and benefits would not apply to gay and lesbian couples.

One of the cases involves California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex couples from marrying in the state, despite the California Supreme Court's 2008 ruling allowing gay marriage. In February, a California federal appeals court struck down Proposition 8, and supporters of the measure appealed the decision.

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Just three weeks ago, three states voted to legalize gay marriage and voters in Minnesota voted to block a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The Wall Street Journal had outlined three possible scenarios for the court, including 1) declining to hear any of the cases, 2) taking up the case on DOMA, but not tackling the case on Proposition 8, or 3) taking on both challenges to DOMA and Proposition 8, paving the way for a landmark ruling in June 2013 on gay marriage.

The court seemed to take option 1, as The Journal later reported, "The Supreme Court took no action Friday on either the Defense of Marriage Act cases or the Proposition 8 case."

Earlier, Thomas Goldstein, publisher of the SCOTUSblog.com, said, "The justices are almost certainly going to take up the question of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act," according to CNN. "The real question is whether they'll step into California's Prop 8 and the ruling there that California discriminated unconstitutionally when it granted a right to same sex-marriage and then took it away. It's a tossup on whether they'll hear that case."

To date, nine states have legalized gay marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. However, 31 states in the US have amended their state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121130/supreme-court-considers-gay-marriage-cases