The Supreme Court announced today it will hear the highly-anticipated arguments in two cases dealing with same-sex marriage in the last week of March.
On March 26, the court will hear at least an hour's worth of arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which deals with California's Proposition 8, the law banning same-sex marriage in the state. The next day, the court will hear at least an hour's worth of arguments in United States v. Windsor, which deals with the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Either case, even as same-sex marriage remains a matter of debate in state legislatures, at the ballot box and in courts. The court is expected to hand down its rulings over the summer.
Prop. 8 passed after the California Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry, putting California voters in the unique position of taking away rights granted by the court. After Prop. 8 passed, a federal court followed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said Prop. 8 was unconstitutional.
DOMA, passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Both the First and Second Circuit Court of appeals have struck down a provision of the law denying federal benefits, like Social Security benefits or the ability to file joint tax returns, to same-sex couples legally married.