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The U.S. Supreme Court will finally wade into the same-sex marriage debate that has embroiled virtually every other governmental body at the state and federal level at some point in the last twenty years. Last Friday, the Court agreed to review two cases that raise, in different ways, the question whether bans on same-sex marriage violate the federal constitution.

The first case, United States v. Windsor, presents the question whether a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which precludes the federal government from giving effect, for any federal law purpose, to a validly celebrated same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional. The second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, considers the constitutionality of a voter referendum in California that eliminated a right of same-sex marriage that the state’s highest court had previously ruled constitutionally necessary.