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Supreme Court: Both sides in gay marriage debate voice optimism

The Supreme Court's decision to take up appeals over DOMA and California's Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage elicited positive reactions from advocates on both sides of the contentious issue.

By Staff writer / December 7, 2012

In this 2010 photo, couple Tara Walsh, left, and Wen Minkoff embrace outside City Hall in San Francisco. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to hear the appeal of a ruling that struck down Proposition 8, the state’s measure that banned same sex marriages.

Ben Margot/AP

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Washington

Both sides of the contentious debate over same-sex marriage in America are expressing optimism over the news Friday that the US Supreme Court has agreed to take up two potential landmark gay rights cases.

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The high court announced it would hear arguments in a case testing the constitutionality of California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

It also said it would hear the case of an elderly New York City woman who claims the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates her right to have her same-sex marriage recognized and respected by the federal government on the same terms as marriages of opposite-sex couples.

DOMA restricts receipt of federal spousal benefits to marriages comprised of one man and one woman. Same-sex spouses who are legally married in their home states are nonetheless barred from receiving federal benefits under the 1996 law.

The high court action comes a month after voters in three states – Maryland, Washington, and Maine – agreed to join six other states and the District of Columbia in embracing same-sex marriages.

“With our wins at the ballot box last month and the fight for marriage equality reaching our nation’s highest court, we have reached a turning point in this noble struggle,” said Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign.

“Today’s announcement gives hope that we will see a landmark Supreme Court ruling for marriage this term,” he said in a statement.

Kate Kendell, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, sounded similarly optimistic.

“We are confident the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA once and for all next year, and, after four long years, will finally erase the stain of Proposition 8 and restore marriage equality to California couples,” she said.

“The day is now clearly in sight when the federal government, the state of California, and every state will recognize that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to the same respect and recognition as every other family,” Ms. Kendell said.

At the same time, those defending the traditional definition of marriage – as the union of one man and one woman – also viewed the court’s action as a step forward toward legal vindication of their position.

John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, said the court’s decision to take up the Prop. 8 case suggests an intent by the justices to reinstate California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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