Court to con­sider gay mar­riage

Rul­ings on two laws ban­ning same-sex unions likely in June.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Byadam Liptak Lo­cal re­ac­tion Court’s de­ci­sion mo­ti­vates Tex­ans on both sides of is­sue, Court

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

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