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Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On 2 Same-Sex Marriage Cases This Week

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tuesday will mark the moment thousands of couples across the Tri-State Area and the entire nation have been waiting for. The U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on two cases that could define what marriage is.

Demonstrators in New York City and other cities over the weekend were doing more than just praying. They were putting the Supreme Court on notice that they expect California's ban on same-sex marriage as well as the 1996 Defense of Marriage act to be struck down as unconstitutional, CBS 2's Don Dahler reported Monday.

"DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, has singled out LGBT Americans for discrimination," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

Kris Perry and Sandra Stier (steer) are part of that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. They were in Washington on Tuesday fighting for their right to marry. The couple stopped by the National Archives to view the document they believe supports their case: the constitution.

"These are important questions for families and individuals to decide and the freedom to marry is one of the precious freedoms we cherish and gay people, like non-gay people, deserve under the Constitution," Evan Wolfson with Freedom to Marry told CBS' "Face The Nation."

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo are among the main plaintiffs fighting California's ban.

"It's not even a question, really, about how to define marriage or what's happening with marriage. It's a question of equality," Katami said.

Another supporter, Aaron Black, said the question is a clear matter of fairness the court needs to enforce.

"My gay brothers and sisters should have the same right to marry as I do," Black said. "It's a tragedy we're even having this discussion."

And Doug Dombek said the fact that same-sex marriages are recognized in some states and not others is a problem, CBS 2's Lou Young reported.

"A couple like ourselves that were married in one state," Dombek said. "We go to another state and we're not considered married and that's a real problem."

But even though polls show a majority of Americans now support gay marriage, only nine states and the District of Columbia have made it legal.

Supporters of the ban insist each state should be left alone to decide this hot button issue.

"The big question going before the Supreme Court is whether or not the Supreme Court should impose a 50-state solution upon this entire country regarding the debate surrounding marriage," Austin Nimocks with the Alliance Defending Freedom told CBS' "Face the Nation.''

"The last thing we need is to shut down the debate, have the Supreme Court redefine marriage for everybody instead of letting us work through this question through our Democratic institutions," Nimocks added.

"It's about fundamentally altering society," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told CBS' "Face the Nation."

And while many were furious that the California decision in favor of Proposition 8 took away marriage rights from gay couples who already had them, Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage said the majority voted in favor of banning gay marriage, and their vote should stand.

"We're arguing that the Supreme Court should not cut this debate short and should respect the votes of over 7 million Californians who voted to protect marriage," Peters said. "They deserve to have their votes respected."

Proponents of the laws say this is a state's rights issue, but opponents say it's larger than that. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, gay married couples, even in states that recognize such unions, are denied federal benefits. They can't even file joint tax returns.

The nine members of the Supreme Court could take until June to decide whether, on the issue of supporting gay marriage, they would say, "I do."

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...

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