Court to hear gay marriage cases

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Supreme Court Justices

US Supreme Court Justices (top l-r ): Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, (center) Chief Justice John Roberts, (bottom l-r): Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito Jr. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court will take up California’s ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.

The justices said Monday they will review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, though on narrow grounds. The San Francisco-based appeals court said the state could not take away the same-sex marriage right that had been granted by California’s Supreme Court.

The court also will decide whether Congress can deprive legally married gay couples of federal benefits otherwise available to married people. A provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act limits a range of health and pension benefits, as well as favorable tax treatment, to heterosexual couples.

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