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Supreme Court could make major gay marriage ruling soon

The Defense of Marriage Act has been in place since 1996. DOMA made it clear that in the eyes of the federal government, a marriage is only between a man and a woman. However, many changes have occurred in terms of gay marriage rights since then. Many Massachusetts same-sex couples have benefitted from the state's legalization of gay marriage.

Even though many same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts and many other states, federal benefits for same-sex spouses are still unattainable. However, the Supreme Court could make a significant decision soon regarding the constitutionality of DOMA as a number of gay marriage-related cases are pending appeals. The court could decide this week to add any number of these cases to their docket.

A recent report indicates that if the justices do decide to take on any of these gay marriage cases, the "cases would be argued in March or April, with a decision by the end of June."

The cases that could be argued are from a number of different states, including one case from Massachusetts regarding a surviving spouse receiving federal benefits. This decision is so significant because if the Supreme Court determines that DOMA is unconstitutional, same-sex married couples would attain benefits and rights currently enjoyed only by heterosexual married couples.

For Massachusetts same-sex couples, a Supreme Court decision could influence federal taxes, healthcare benefits, and Social Security payments. At this point, the ball is in hands of the Supreme Court. News reports in the coming months could indicate where the Supreme Court stands on same-sex marriage.

Source: Huffington Post, "Gay marriage questions, cases weighed by Supreme Court, decision delayed," Mark Sherman, Nov. 30, 2012

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