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U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Oral Arguments on Proposition 8 in March

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear oral arguments for the federal Proposition 8 lawsuit on Tuesday, March 26 -- followed up the next day with arguments on the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

So in a little over two months, the question of legalized gay marriage in California -- and possibly the entire country -- will be handed over to the highest court in the land.

Proposition 8 and DOMA have already been found unconstitutional by federal judges, and those rulings have been appealed by gay marriage opponents.

Proposition 8 was passed by California voters a little over four years ago in 2008. Before that, gay marriage in California had been legal for several months. An estimated 18,000 gay couples wed during that brief window.

DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 when he was facing a re-election campaign. The federal law designates marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

While a state government may acknowledge the marriage of a gay couple and extend certain benefits and protections, the federal government does not.

By hearing oral arguments for both cases, the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to make a definitive statement on the legality of gay marriage in the United States.

Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Equal Rights organized and funded the federal Proposition 8 lawsuit.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.