The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week in two cases that could decide whether same sex marriage will be the law of the land.
During Tuesday's session, the justices will hear arguments about 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.
Recent public opinion polls show a majority of Americans support now in support of same-sex marriage. Nine states plus the District of Columbia have legalized the practice. Supporters call it a human- and civil-rights issue, and are hoping for a decision similar to one in 1967 that struck down state laws that banned interracial marriage.
But 29 other states have passed amendments in their constitutions that outlaw gay marriage. Opponents insist the institution of marriage must be protected to ensure the family unit.
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