Same-sex couples anxious for Supreme Court ruling

(CBS NEWS) Couples all over America are waiting for six men and three women to tell them whether they have a constitutional right to marry.

Thom Watson and Jeff Tabacco have been together for 10 years, and would like to make their relationship official.

"It's always been our dream to marry the person that we love and to commit our lives to each other," Watson said.

As residents of California, they can't because four years ago California voters passed Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.

But, it's the U.S. Supreme Court that will have the final say. On Friday, the justices met behind closed doors to decide whether to hear arguments in the California case. If they do not, a lower court decision striking down Proposition 8 will stand, and same-sex marriage will again be legal in California.

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"If the court does not take the appeal, I will feel an amazing amount of joy," Watson said.

The court today also considered jumping into the debate over the Defense of Marriage Act. Known as DoMA, the 1996 federal law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and allows the government to deny federal assistance -- such as Social Security survivor benefits -- to same-sex couples even if they're legally married.

Several lower courts have struck down the law as a violation of the constitution's equal protection clause.

But, Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage says there's no right to gay marriage in the constitution.

"The federal government and our elected officials through congress have a responsibility and right to protect marriage as a union of one man and one woman," Peters said. "So, we hope the supreme court will follow that precedent and respect the decisions of their representatives in Congress."

The Supreme Court did not say on Friday which of the 10 same sex marriage cases on its docket it is willing to take up, but legal experts say whichever ones they choose this Supreme Court term is likely to have a profound influence on the future of same-sex marriage.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.