When Will Same-Sex Marriage Litigation Reach the Supreme Court?

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President Barak Obama made headlines last week when he announced his support for gay marriage. The announcement follows his decision earlier this year to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in same-sex marriage litigation. While both of these actions help advance efforts to make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country, it will be the courts, probably the U.S. Supreme Court, that will likely have the last word on this controversial legal issue.

Advancing more rapidly than political speculation about this years elections are the federal cases challenging DOMA in various districts. DOMA, which became law in 1996, states that “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in those states where it is legal.

A few weeks ago, in New York, five same-sex married couples challenged the constitutionality of DOMA on the grounds that it discriminates against bi-national couples because they are not afforded the same immigration rights. However, a case out of Massachusetts likely has the best chance to make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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