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As gay marriage goes to the Supreme Court, America ends a watershed year for gay rights

By Tim Stanley, Telegraph

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases that challenge laws related to gay marriage. One is Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in California and was passed by referendum, and the other is the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The outcome of the hearing (expected in June) is very important. As well as generally setting the tone for the gay rights debate, it’ll answer two critical questions. A) Is gay marriage a constitutional right or do states retain the discretion to ban it? B) Should same sex couples receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples? The last question might surprise British readers. While the debate about gay marriage in the UK is a cultural dispute about the meaning of the word “marriage,” in the US it has complex legal and financial implications for the individuals involved. The stakes are even higher.
How will the Supreme Court vote? Broadly speaking, conservatives have reason to be hopeful … but gay rights activists need not panic, either. The ambiguity reflects how America is in transition on this issue, and the outcome can’t be second guessed.
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