The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing arguments Tuesday in two separate cases that could decide whether same sex marriage will be the law of the land.
Justices Tuesday will take up the question of whether California's Proposition 8, which prohibits gay marriage in that state, is unconstitutional by violating equal protection laws.
On Wednesday, the high court will consider the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being only between one man and one woman.
Supporters and opponents of gay marriage have been gathering outside the court for days, hoping to get a coveted seat to hear the cases. Both sides also are marching and rallying in Washington.
Supporters of gay marriage call it a human and civil rights issue. Opponents insist the institution of marriage must be protected to ensure the family unit.