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Supreme Court likely may decide same-sex marriage cases

Same-sex couples in Washington state who have already married or intend to marry will be interested to know that the U.S. Supreme Court is increasingly likely to address the issue of gay marriage soon. A decision from the high court would have a huge impact on family law questions all over the United States.

The justices met earlier this month to add appeals submitted this summer to their docket. One of the appeals arose in California in regard to Proposition 8, a referendum passed by voters there that bans same-sex marriage.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional in denying rights to a minority group that has suffered historical discrimination. If the appeal is denied, the lower court ruling against Proposition 8 will likely stand and same-sex marriage will again be legal in California.

The court may also decide to put the same-sex marriage cases among this summer's appeals aside for further study. Although the court meets again for conference this week, some experts think that they may wait even longer so that they can also consider the briefs for two other Defense of Marriage Act appeals.

Several states, including Washington, have same-sex marriage ballot measures coming up for decision on Nov. 6.

This blog has previously discussed some of the challenges that come with inconsistent state laws regarding same-sex marriage. Couples who marry in states that permit their unions may have difficulty seeking divorces if they move to states that do not permit same-sex marriage.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Highest court to decide on gay marriage," Bob Egelko, Sep. 26, 2012

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