US Supreme Court to take up issue of gay marriage
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States (US) Supreme Court on Friday decided to take up the sensitive issue of gay marriage, hearing challenges to a federal law denying benefits to same-sex couples and California's ban on such unions.
The highest US court will likely hear arguments in the cases in March 2013, with rulings to come in June. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in nine states and the federal capital Washington but barred in 30 other states.
As analysts predicted, the court took up one challenge to the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act (Doma), which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman and denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.
Those benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples but denied to gays include inheritance rights, tax breaks, filing of joint income tax returns, and health insurance coverage.