Gay marriage cases could see Supreme Court action

Associated Press
FILE - This Oct. 18, 2012 file photo shows Edith Windsor interviewed at the offices of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in New York. 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/Richard Drew, File)
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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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