Supreme Court defers action on same-sex marriage

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09:38 AM December 4th, 2012

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December 4th, 2012 09:38 AM

Eduardo Cisneros (L) and Luke Montgomery kiss in front of a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Hollywood in this August 3, 2012 photo in Hollywood, California. The US Supreme Court put off a decision on whether to take up the sensitive issue of same-sex marriage, taking no action December 3, 2012 on 10 gay marriage petitions before it. The top US court had been expected to take up the gay marriage challenges at its private conference on Friday, but as of Monday it had not added any of those cases to its docket. The court released a long list of cases that it will not hear, but made no mention of the gay marriage petitions, suggesting the justices needed more time to discuss it at their next conference December 7.AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court on Monday again put off a decision on whether to take up the sensitive issue of same-sex marriage, taking no action on 10 petitions before it but agreeing to discuss them later.

The top US court has placed the issue on the agenda for its closed-door meeting on Friday, meaning it will have featured in discussions at three consecutive meetings.

It could announce on Friday or Monday whether it will take up any of the gay marriage petitions.

The court released a long list of cases that it will not hear, but made no mention of the petitions, suggesting the justices are having trouble deciding on the matter and need further time to debate in private.

Eight of the petitions involve challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

The benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples but denied to gays include inheritance rights, tax breaks, filing of joint income tax returns, and health insurance coverage.

Two other petitions deal with an Arizona state law similar to DOMA and a challenge to a 2008 California voter initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that same-sex marriage probably would come before the court in the session that ends in mid-2013.

If the court does take up one or more of the petitions, it will probably hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex message in March and then hand down its ruling in June.

Thousands of homosexual couples have already been legally married or will be soon in nine of the 50 US states plus the District of Columbia.

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