Court to consider gay marriage
Rulings on two laws banning same-sex unions likely in June.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court entered the national debate over same-sex marriage Friday, agreeing to hear a pair of cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman.
One of the cases, from California, could establish or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Another case, from New York, challenges a federal law that requires the federal government to deny benefits to gay and lesbian couples married in states that allow such unions.
The court’s move comes against the backdrop of a rapid shift in public attitudes about same-sex marriage, with recent polls indicating that a majority of Americans support allowing such unions. After last month’s elections, the number of states authorizing same-sex marriage increased from six to nine.
The court’s docket is now crowded with cases about the meaning of equality, with the new cases joining ones on affirmative action in higher education and the future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Decisions in all of those cases are expected by June.
The California case was filed in 2009 by Theodore Olson and David Boies, two lawyers who were on opposite sides in the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, which settled the 2000 presidential