US Supreme Court ponders gay marriage issue

The US Supreme Court made no public decisions on whether it would consider the legal status of gay marriage last Friday, despite expectations that it might announce plans to assess several challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act.

This federal law defines marriage ass being between a man and a woman, despite the fact that a number of US states recognise same sex marriage. Most recently, Maryland, Maine and Washington voted to legalise gay marriage on November 6, the same day as the US presidential election. Although President Obama’s government is opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act, it remains in force and means that same sex unions do not attract the same financial rights and federal benefits as heterosexual marriage.

The Supreme Court has also received a challenge to an appeal court decision in February to overturn Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman in the state.

The Supreme Court may announce a decision to consider the appeals later today (Monday December 3). If it does not do so, the Court is likely to consider the issues at a private conference scheduled for this Friday (December 7).

If  the Supreme Court proceeds with consideration of the appeals, arguments could be heard within months, with a decision possible as soon as June of the next year.

Photo of the US Supreme Court by Matt H. Wade via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

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