12:49 PM PST, December 7, 2012
The Supreme Court announced Friday it will rule for the first time on same-sex marriage by deciding the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the voter initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman.
The justices also said they would decide whether legally married gay couples have a right to equal benefits under federal law.
The California case raises the broad question of whether gays and lesbians have an equal right to marry.
If the justices had turned down the appeal from the defenders of Prop. 8, it would have allowed gay marriages to resume in California, but without setting a national precedent.
Now, the high court has agreed to decide whether a state’s ban on same-sex marriages violates the U.S. Constitution. The court’s intervention came just one month after voters in three states — Maine, Maryland and Washington — approved gay marriages. This brought the total to nine states having legalized same-sex marriage.