Will the Supreme Court weigh in on same-sex marriage?

This Dec. 17, 2010 file photo shows Karen Golinski, right, hugging her wife Amy Cunninghis as they pose for a photograph outside of a federal court building in San Francisco. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Update: The Supreme Court ended its day Friday without announcing whether it would take up any of the same-sex marriage cases.

In what has already been a pivotal year in the debate over same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court may decide it should weigh in on the issue.

The justices meet today in a private conference to discuss 10 cases they could take up relating to same-sex marriage, including eight that challenge the how a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), applies to legally married same-sex couples. The justices could also decide to review a 2009 Arizona law impacting state employees, or the circuit court ruling that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8.

If the court chose to rule on the Proposition 8 case or DOMA, it could end up changing rules throughout the country pertaining to same-sex marriage -- an issue that remains as tumultuous as ever, changing at the state level through ballot initiatives, state-based legislation and through the courts.

Public opinion seems to be shifting towards acceptance of same-sex marriage. In 2011, Gallup found for the first time that a majority of Americans supported it. And on Election Day this year, three states passed ballot initiatives allowing same-sex couples to marry -- making this year the first ever in which voters passed initiatives in favor, rather than against, same-sex marriage. The issue, however, is far from resolved. While nine states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, many more -- 39 states -- prohibit it.

The Supreme Court is still far from handing down any rulings -- today, it only decides what cases it will accept this term. At least four of the nine justices must agree to hear a case, and the court could announce as early as today which cases, if any, it's agreed to take on.

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