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Gay marriage before Supreme Court? Cases weighed

  • FILE - 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. The fight over gay marriage is shifting from the ballot box to the Supreme Court. Three weeks after voters in three states backed it, the justices meet Friday to decide whether they should deal sooner rather than later with the idea that the Constitution gives people the right to marry regardless of a couple's sexual orientation. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

WASHINGTON — The running fight over gay marriage is shifting from the ballot box to the Supreme Court.

Three weeks after voters backed same-sex marriage in three states and defeated a ban in a fourth, the justices met Friday to discuss whether they should deal sooner rather than later with the claim that the Constitution gives people the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

The court also could duck the ultimate question for now and instead focus on a narrower but still important issue: whether Congress can prevent legally married gay Americans from receiving federal benefits otherwise available to married couples.

There was no announcement about the court's plans on Friday. The next opportunity for word on gay marriage cases is Monday, although the justices also could put off a decision until their next private meeting in a week's time. That will be their last meeting until January.

Any cases would be argued in March or April, with a decision expected by the end of June.


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