(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear challenges to California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"Prop 8" enshrines a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution and was overturned by federal courts. A divided three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February struck it down, ruling that it "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."
Supporters of Prop 8 had asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that ruling. Gay marriages were put on hold in California while the Supreme Court decided whether to step in and hear the case.
Nine states and the District of Columbia allow -- or will soon allow -- gay marriage.
Besides the Prop 8 case, the Justices will also address challenges to a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The Obama administration decided in 2011 to no longer defend DOMA in court, arguing that it was unconstitutional. Two federal appeals courts have struck down the law.
The cases will be scheduled for argument later this term and likely decided at the end of the term in June.
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