Gay marriage cases could see Supreme Court action

Topics: From the Wires,

Gay marriage cases could see Supreme Court actionFILE - This Dec. 17, 2010 file photo shows Karen Golinski, right, hugging her wife Amy Cunninghis as they pose for a photograph outside of a federal court building in San Francisco. The fight over gay marriage is shifting from the ballot box to the Supreme Court. Three weeks after voters in three states backed it, the justices meet Friday to decide whether they should deal sooner rather than later with the idea that the Constitution gives people the right to marry regardless of a couple's sexual orientation. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)(Credit: AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The running fight over gay marriage is shifting from the ballot box to the Supreme Court.

Three weeks after voters backed same-sex marriage in three states and defeated a ban in a fourth, the justices are meeting Friday to decide whether they should deal sooner rather than later with the claim that the Constitution gives people the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

The court also could duck the ultimate question for now and instead focus on a narrower but still important issue: whether Congress can prevent legally married gay Americans from receiving federal benefits otherwise available to married couples.

The court could announce its plans as soon as Friday afternoon. Any cases probably would be argued in March, with a decision expected by June.

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