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US Supreme Court to hear same-sex benefits ban case

By James Barnes

27 March 2013 at 12:42 BST

The US Supreme Court will today hear a case aimed at overturning a law which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, a day after the court scrutinised a state gay marriage ban.

The US Supreme Court

The Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, has already been overturned by four federal courts and two courts of appeal, reports the BBC.

Federal benfits

The Act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only, thereby ruling gay couples out of federal benefits.
Yesterday, the court looked into California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage. A decision in both cases is expected in June, according to reports.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled last year that law violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.


However, some campaigners are pessimistic of the chances of overturning Doma, with reports suggesting that the court may simply decide not to rule in the case – effectively leaving same-sex marriage legal in California but without the change that many are hoping for.
Nine US states – and Washington DC – currently permit same-sex marriage, while a further twelve states allow civil unions which provide variable amounts of state benefits.


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