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Supreme Court to take on gay marriage cases

The Supreme Court will take up the issue of gay marriage, hearing challenges to DOMA and Prop 8.

Supreme court gay marriage doma december 7 2012Enlarge
The Supreme Court has decided to take on gay marriage, hearing challenges to California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will take on a challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage, as well as deciding whether Congress can deprive legally married couples of federal benefits based on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Associated Press reported.

In particular, the court will examine a section of DOMA, a law passed in 1996, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, The Washington Post reported.

In 2011, the Obama administration said it would abandon defending the law, and a string of lower courts ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples who were legally married federal benefits while offering them to opposite-sex married couples.

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The Post noted that since DOMA centers around already married couples, that particular case would not answer the constitutional question of whether homosexuals are allowed to be married. 

The court also decided to hear an appeal by supporters of California's Proposition 8, which seeks to ban same-sex marriage.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the 2008 law as unconstitutional, saying it violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by denying same-sex couples rights that heterosexual couples had access to, Bloomberg noted.

Bloomberg reported that the court will decide the cases by June. The high court's decision to review the cases comes as the gay marriage movement has gathered momentum, winning at the polls in four states this year.

More on GlobalPost: Supreme Court does not act on gay marriage cases 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121207/supreme-court-take-gay-marriage-cases