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Local Groups On Both Sides Of Gay Marriage Issue Keep Close Eye On Supreme Court Proceedings

By David Madden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Taking on an important but divisive issue, the United States Supreme Court has heard arguments on the first of two same-sex marriage cases.

The case before the court Tuesday was a challenge to California's voter-approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state. On Wednesday, justices were expected to hear arguments on the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex unions.

In our area, local organizations on both sides of the issue are watching the proceedings in Washington closely.

Those in support of the concept are cautiously confident the high court will make some changes.

"I think that the Defense of Marriage Act is clearly unconstitutional and I think that will be overturned," says Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. "I think most experts agree."

But it's the California case that could bring about the changes he supports.

"The California case could have massive impact," Stevenson says. "So there's a potential, an outside potential that we would have full marriage nationally.

On the other hand, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference thinks the high court should stay out of it.

"Pennsylvania has a Defense of Marriage Act," says spokeswoman Amy Hill. "We don't see that Pennsylvania's definition of marriage is in any imminent danger."

Still, Hill sees the gay marriage issue as one that should be handled strictly on the state level.

"The state's ability to define those key relationships as marriage is something that we find very important," she says.

A ruling from the Supreme Court is expected in a few months.

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