For the first time ever, the U.S. Supreme Court will tackle the issue of gay marriage, reviewing the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that defines marriage between only a man and a woman.
The U.S. Supreme court announced on Friday that it would enter the national debate on the issue. The move comes at a time when a growing number of Americans are supporting gay marriage. The courts could decide whether or not states must permit same-sex marriage in the first place.
Nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington.
The Defense of Marriage Act states that gay couples who wed in one of the nine states are only recognized as married under state law, being denied federal recognition. DOMA has even been declared as unconstitutional in some parts of the country, but not all. The U.S. Supreme Court could change that.
The courts will also consider the constitutionality of Prop. 8, which took away same-sex couples the right to marry in California.
The cases will be presented to the courts in March with decisions to be made by June.